Dominant 4th quarter sinks Western in final

Team looks to learn from mistakes at nationals next week

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs men's basketball

Jon Purdy

I HAVEN'T SEEN 'SHAG' LIKE THIS SINCE AUSTIN POWERS WAS RECEIVING CONJUGAL VISITS. The men's basketball team surpassed expectations by qualifying for the Ontario University Athletics final, but came up short versus the nationally-ranked Carleton Ravens in Ottawa.

Last Saturday, the Western Mustangs men’s basketball team (12-10) made its first bid for the Ontario provincial title in the last six years, facing the undefeated Carleton Ravens (22-0) in the Wilson Cup.

Although the Mustangs were still riding high from their third straight playoff win against the Brock Badgers on March 1, their newfound momentum could not slow the number one-ranked Ravens, who defeated the Mustangs 81-65 at the Ravens’ Nest in Ottawa.

Veteran Western forward Alan Paron heaped heavy praise upon Carleton’s top-ranked defence.

“They’re the number one ranked team in Canada and their defence is great, so yeah, it was hard for us to get the shots we wanted; and when we did, they just didn’t go in.”

Carleton forward Aaron Doornekamp, this season’s Ontario University Athletics East Player of the Year, won the Kitch McPherson Award as the game’s MVP after his standout 23-point performance.

The Ravens’ offence was also powered by Kingston native Stuart Turnbull, who notched a game-high 30 points and eight boards. Carleton’s Ryan Bell made his presence known as well, with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Mustangs head coach Brad Campbell addressed the value in playing a team as strong as Carleton prior to heading into this weekend’s tournament.

“Carleton are a huge gauge for that [high] calibre of play and what’s going to be necessary to win a national championship, so just the experience of playing against the defending national champs before heading into the CIS [finals] is very valuable.”

Campbell acknowledged that playing in the highly competitive OUA West division may be to his team’s advantage when it faces teams from across Canada.

“Coming out of our league, which is perennially one of the best and most physical leagues in Canada, I think it shows that we’re ready to play at this level.”

For the Mustangs, guard Matt Curtis led his team with 13 points, while Jason Milliquet notched 11 points and Ryan Barbeau chipped in with 10.

During the first half of the game, the score remained close, with both teams playing strong defensively and denying their opponent easy opportunities in the paint. However, Doornekamp’s speed quickly became difficult for the Mustangs to handle and the Ravens began to dominate the boards.

This allowed Carleton to build a nine-point lead, before the Mustangs regrouped with a dunk by forward Brad Smith and a clutch three-pointer by Curtis. By halftime, the Mustangs had diminished the Ravens lead to only four points; the frame ended 37-33 in favour of the defending champs.

In the second half, the Ravens’ offence took off, as Turnbull repeatedly attacked the basket while Doornekamp and guard Mike Kenny began sinking threes. This offensive surge allowed the Ravens to stretch their lead to double digits.

In the final minutes of the game, Turnbull added insurance by sinking eight shots from the charity stripe.

While Campbell wasn’t happy to lose the game, he found some positives in his team’s play, specifically, the physicality of the game.

“While the game kind of got away from us in the fourth quarter, we hung tough through three [quarters]. I mean obviously we’re not pleased at losing the game, but overall we showed ourselves we can play at this level ... and if we can put together another minute here and another possession there, we can be in a position to win that game.”

With the win, the Ravens will enter this weekend’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championships at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa as the top-seeded team. Carleton is in search of its sixth straight national title.

It is no secret to Campbell that the Ravens are going to be the primary obstacle for any team with aspirations of prying the title away from the five-time champs.

“Whoever is going to win [CIS] is going to have to beat Carleton, that’s the fact of the matter, so for us to get the experience of playing them [before the tournament] is very valuable.”

This will be the first time the Mustangs have played in a venue capable of holding 20,000 spectators, something Paron is looking forward to.

“We played in New Brunswick at the beginning of the year and that was pretty big, but we’ve definitely never played in anything as big as an NHL arena.”

The Mustangs, who automatically qualified for the CIS tourney upon making the OUA final, are seeded in sixth place out of the eight-team pack at nationals.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette