January 13, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 56  

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Western splits weekend games, shows promise for ’04

By Chris Clarke
Gazette Writer

Matt Prince/Gazette
YOU TALKIN’ TO ME? Like Robert DeNiro before him, Western men’s basketball centre Daron Leonard wonders if the referee was addressing him during Friday’s game against York.

On Friday night, Western’s men’s basketball team hoped to start the 2004 portion of their season on a better note than 2003, with mixed results.

The team fell to the York Lions by a score of 78-67 on Friday at Alumni Hall. The Mustangs got off to a fast start, scoring on their first three possessions and forcing York to play catch up for most of the game. Coming out strong in the second half, York took a 59-56 lead on Daniel Eves’ triple.

The Lions never looked back, as the Mustangs shot themselves in the foot on defense, giving up easy baskets in the last four minutes of the game.

Tom McChesney led York with 20 points and eight boards.

“Tommy played well for us,” said Lions coach Bob Bain. “We played a zone by default. We were just fortunate that they didn’t make a lot of shots in the second half.”

The Mustangs were led by James Harrison’s 18 points and four assists, as well as Daron Leonard’s 16 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Bain had nothing but praise for the young Mustang team.

“I’m glad I’m taking a sabbatical next year, because I would hate to have to coach against Daron Leonard. With guys like Leonard and Harrison, who is an excellent shooter, they’re going to be a great team down the road.”

The most impressive stat of the game belonged to Adam Peaker, who played a Jordan-esque 37 of 40 minutes with the flu.

Western head coach Craig Boydell blamed his team’s lacklustre effort on the defensive boards for the loss.
“I thought we did an excellent job stopping their initial offense, but we gave them second attempts on the offensive glass, and that was the game,” he said. “They really hurt us when they changed defenses in the second half. We didn’t give them anything, but they produced on the offensive glass.”

Mustang forward Sagar Desai went down with a broken nose and a concussion in the first half.
On Saturday night, a raucous crowd turned out to watch Western defeat the Laurentian Voyageurs by a score of 74-70, earning just their second win of the season. Peaker had a monster night for the Mustangs: 24 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals in an unbelievable 40 minutes of action.

How were things different from Friday night? First, the intensity, as the Mustangs looked strong throughout the entire game. Second, a large crowd of Mustang supporters came out to cheer the team on. Boydell had his reasons, too.

“We’re a young team, but we sucked it up and gutted it out. I was impressed with the way our guys ran the offense, and of course Adam Peaker was there when we needed him at the end.”

Western and Laurentian took turns sharing the lead, but with 1:01 left in the second half, Mustang Darren Viera had a chance to put the Mustangs up four but missed a lay-up. On the ensuing play, Laurentian did a poor job executing, as Voyageurs guard Andrew Greig passed up an open shot and proceeded to launch a bad shot with a defender in his face, costing his team the game. The Mustangs made their free throws down the stretch to close out the game.

Voyageurs coach Virgil Hill made no excuses for Saturday’s loss. “Both teams played well enough to win the game tonight. Unfortunately, we were on the other side of the win,” Hill said. “We just played Windsor last night with the exact same result, a 72-68 loss that came down to free throws.”

Harrison scored 16 points in the victory Saturday. “We won this game playing tough defense, we ran the offense and we gutted it out,” Harrison said.

The most interesting subtext in Saturday’s game was the battle between Mustang Tyler Done and his brother Ryan, a third-year guard for Laurentian.

“I’ve never played against him before. Half the crowd were relatives of ours,” said an obviously excited Tyler. “We were both on the floor at the end of the game, and I was afraid he was gonna hit the game winning shot on me.”

Boydell looks to the upcoming weekend as a chance to get a couple of road wins against some quality teams, Ryerson and Toronto.
“I’m more comfortable coaching this team on the road,” Boydell said. “We’re looking at some must-win games coming up here. We have to get into the playoffs. If we can get there, I think we can upset some of the top teams.”



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