Offence comes to life in opening win

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Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Western men's basketball

Jon Purdy

SPORTING A SWEETER 'STACHE THAN KURT RAMBIS. Mustangs captain Matt Curtis had 20 points and 16 helpers in Western's victory over the York Lions last Friday.

Brad Smith’s 26 points highlighted a big opening night for Western’s men’s basketball team, where it owned the paint en route to a 102-83 thumping of the York Lions.

“I think almost every game we play, we have a tremendous advantage inside and we’ve got depth inside,” Western head coach Brad Campbell said. “It’s something we try not only to attack at the start of the game but the entire game.”

The ’Stangs quickly took advantage of York’s inexperience inside, with Smith scoring the team’s first 12 points of the game to give it an early advantage.

Following a three-point play by York forward Matthew Terejko, the Lions evened the score at 12 with 6:59 left in the first quarter. Terejko finished the night with 25 points.

Despite facing a zone defence and having their forwards fronted for much of the second quarter, the Mustangs continued to pour points in the paint, going into the second half up 49-34.

“We have a lot of things to combat different defensive looks,” Western point guard and team captain Matt Curtis said. “A lot of our plays and action work well against any defence.”

Facing a large deficit at halftime, the Lions put on a full-court press to start the second half. Combined with hot shooting from the perimeter, York cut Western’s lead to five points midway through the third quarter, trailing the ’Stangs 60-55.

“We tried to change things up and come with a new defence in the second half,” York head coach Bob Bain said.

With Smith in foul trouble and the Purple and Silver struggling inside, guard Jason Milliquet provided Western with the offensive spark needed to regain control of the game.

Milliquet poured in five three-pointers, including a crucial basket before the end of the third quarter to put the ’Stangs up 73-61 heading into the fourth. The ’Stangs continued to ride hot shooting in the final frame to preserve the victory.

“Western shot very well at times [from the perimeter] and it had a good inside-outside game,” Bain said.

With Colin LaForme and Keenan Jeppesen ineligible to play and forward Andrew Wedemire out with injuries, rookie guard Ryan Barbeau and forward Garrett Olexiuk received a lot of minutes. The youngsters responded well, according to Curtis.

“Garrett and Ryan are great players and responded great, not only today but also during our preseason as well. I know the feeling of being thrust into such a demanding role and it’s definitely not easy.”

Despite having another big offensive night, Western fell on Saturday to the Laurentian Voyageurs by a score of 100-93. Smith once again led the way with 24 points.

Western will be back next week, hosting the number nine nationally-ranked Queen’s Golden Gaels at Alumni Hall. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.

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