Volume 96, Issue 59
Wednesday, January 15, 2003

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Mustangs look Raptor-like

By Joanna Landsberg
Gazette Writer

Niru Somayajula/Gazette

'CAUSE I LIVE IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER. Western baller Scott Seeley shows his disdain for falling, meanwhile, the Mustangs fell 89-78 to Ottawa.

It's a common belief among basketball enthusiasts that only the last two minutes of the game matter. Perfect execution is disregarded when the game comes down to the final baskets, in favour of a free-for-all scramble to be the last man standing.

Saturday night's men's basketball game between the Western Mustangs and the Ottawa Gee Gee's at Alumni Hall was a see-saw battle. At the half, the score was 45-44 in favour of Ottawa and from then on in it was no more than a two-possession game, as the score teetered back and forth before Ottawa finally pulled away and emerged with an 89-78 victory.

The loss was the sixth consecutive debacle for the Mustangs. It certainly wasn't like Western gave up in the game, but sheer exhaustion got the better of them in the final two minutes.

"Our team has been struck by massive injuries and illnesses, yet continued to play courageously and hard. As we integrate our starters back into the lineup, this team can beat anybody in the country. We were ranked number three in the country for a reason," said Mustangs head coach Craig Boydell.

The Gee Gee's, on the other hand, face a different dilemma – the problem of youth. Two of the mainstays on the starting lineup are rookie guards Ali Mahmoud and Alex McLeod. McLeod was actually heavily recruited by the Mustangs and dropped 47 points in a Purple and White Tournament high school game last season in London. Gee Gee's assistant coach Carlos Brown was pleasantly surprised with his young teams play.

"Our players played with patience and showed a great deal of maturity," Brown said. "They believed in what they were doing out there."

Recently, the Mustangs have been struggling to play 40 minutes of solid basketball due to a tough schedule of three games over four days. Prior to Saturday night's game against Ottawa, the men matched up with the number one ranked team in the country, the Carleton Ravens, and came out on the losing end of an 84-62 score.

Carleton out-rebounded (38-23), outscored and outplayed Western. According to Ravens head coach Dave Smart, the victory was much more significant than just another win. He said his talented and stacked squad had been practicing all week for a nemesis who had defeated the Ravens in three of their last four contests.

Smart was also quick to point out that the Ravens didn't come into the game with any false sense of security. "Although they don't have Andy [Kwiatkowski] and Chris [Brown], this is still a tough team and we executed well defensively. But, over anything else, it was our team's motivation that forced this win," Smart said.

Unfortunately, the Mustangs have seemed to go the way of the Toronto Raptors, which is bad news for a team considered to be a top contenders after placing second in the country last season.

However, the banged-up squad will have a chance to do what the Raptors did on Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves and break out of their slump, when they travel to face the Royal Military College Paladins on Friday.

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2002 THE GAZETTE