'Stangs play solid second half in win

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs men's basketball

Jonas Hrebeniuk

SKIP TO MY LOU, MY DARLING. Alex Brzozowicz bustled through the lane in action against the Laurier Golden Hawks this weekend at Alumni Hall. The Mustangs persevered through an unsightly first half to dispatch the Hawks 73-60.

Calling it sloppy would be an understatement.

The men’s basketball team survived a lacklustre first half to defeat the Laurier Golden Hawks 73-60 in front of a near-packed Alumni Hall.

The Hawks lulled the ’Stangs into a gritty defensive battle through the first half. It was nearly five minutes into the first half before Andrew Wedemire registered a bucket from the field. Trouble from the free throw line and missed opportunities saw the Purple and Silver down 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.

It could have been a much bigger lead without three massive blocks from Alex Brzozowicz, preventing six easy Laurier points.

Failure to capitalize on low-post chances allowed the Hawks to hold their lead deep into the second quarter. A no-look pass from Matt Curtis to Colin LaForme for an easy bucket tied the game at 20-20.

The momentum continued to swing in the Mustangs’ favour as a fast break led by Ryan Barbeau made it 22-20 and forced a Laurier time-out.

The teams exchanged points in the final minute and headed to the dressing room with Western ahead 23-22.

“Laurier took us out of our game in the first half,” LaForme said. “We had easy lay-ups down low, but couldn’t finish.”

With both teams struggling to take control of the game, Mustangs head coach Brad Campbell was confident going into the second half.

“We focused on the fact that we ran a pretty good offence but just didn’t finish shots,” he said. “We were pleased with our defence and effort and we felt that if we continued the same way in the second half, things would turn around.”

In the second half, the ’Stangs started to run the floor and used the depth of their roster as the Golden Hawks tired. The overwhelming presence of LaForme and Brad Smith began to take its toll on the visitors as the Mustangs jumped out to a 32-26 lead. Smith finished with a team-high 14 points.

First-year ’baller Kale Harrison answered for Laurier with 10 straight points closing the lead to one at 40-39.

The highlight of the night came when Curtis dropped a three-pointer at the buzzer while being fouled at the end of the third frame. Curtis casually put home the free throw and walked to the bench with his team up 53-43.

The Golden Hawks continued to be outrun by the depth of the ’Stangs, who had 10 different players register points.

Another offensive spurt from Harrison produced seven unanswered points for Laurier, but it was not enough as the game finished 73-60.

Brzozowicz had a standout game " one rebound shy of a double-double " with nine rebounds and 10 points. LaForme registered 14 boards and 12 points on the night.

Laurier head coach Peter Campbell commended the Mustangs’ effort.

“Western’s got a good run going, they just won two big games on the road and they handled us pretty easily today,” he said.

The ’Stangs’ tight defence held the Hawks to 28.4 per cent shooting from the field.

“Our defence was all we could have asked for,” Jason Milliquet said. “We knew going into the game that if we could limit their three point chances, we would be in good shape.”

Campbell is careful not to look too far ahead.

“For us to continue to be successful, we understand we need to focus on the immediate schedule and not get carried away with playoff position at this time.”

Up next for the men is a set of games versus the Lakehead Thunderwolves on the road this weekend. When asked what he will prepare for, Milliquet cringed at the prospects of Thunder Bay weather.

“When I think about the Lakehead games, the first thing I think is two sweaters, a warm hat and possibly even snow pants.”

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