Badgers win tournament of upsets

Ravens, Thunderbirds fall in opening rounds

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs men's basketball: going for the slam dunk

It was a tournament of upsets at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s basketball championships, where eight teams from across Canada converged at Scotiabank Place in the nation’s capital to battle it out for the right to be crowned national champs.

The surprises started in the opening game on day one, when the Western Mustangs, seeded sixth, defeated the third-seeded Saint Mary’s Huskies 75-70 to earn a berth in the semi-final.

Western head coach Brad Campbell was pleased with his team’s effort.

“This team has battled all year, as you witnessed in that game,” he said. “We had a substantial lead and let that dwindle down, but they battled right to the end.”

Following Western’s victory, the Brock Badgers and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds took to the floor to decide who would face Western and earn the chance to play for the national title.

In an offensively dominated tilt, seventh-seeded Brock downed the number two seed Thunderbirds to advance to the semi-finals against the Badgers’ regular season rivals " the Purple and Silver of Western.

UBC head coach Kevin Hanson addressed the frustration of his team’s early relegation to the consolation round.

“I’m very self-analytical. You look at yourself, you try to see what works and what hasn’t,” he said. “I’m just dumbfounded; this is obviously a pretty frustrating thing to happen to a person.”

Rounding out the upsets of the first round was the fifth-seeded Acadia Axemen’s 85-77 defeat of the four seed Laval Rouge et Or.

In the final preliminary game, the Carleton Ravens downed the Alberta Golden Bears 66-57.

The first semi-final was an all-Ontario affair, as Brock and Western faced off in a replay of the OUA West division title back on March 1, a game Western won 79-62.

In a game where 43 of 56 fouls were called against the Mustangs, Brock ended Western’s valiant postseason run with an 85-75 victory.

Having cemented its place in the championship game, Brock could sit back and scout the second semi-final, where the heavily favoured Ravens would match up against Acadia.

The Axemen capitalized on Carleton’s missed opportunities and collected a total of 27 defensive rebounds and started the second half up by one.

In what was easily the most emotional game of the tournament, with the teams trading leads throughout the game until a turnover by Acadia guard Andrew Kraus resulted in the Ravens taking a three-point lead with 10 seconds to go.

Enter Acadia guard Peter Leighton.

With less than three seconds on the clock, Leighton sank a fadeaway three pointer to send the game to overtime.

After the first extra frame solved nothing, it was Leighton again putting the Axemen up by two, making consecutive foul shots with less than eight seconds left on the clock.

As time expired, CIS MVP Aaron Doornekamp missed a three-point attempt, which would have won the game for the Ravens. Instead, the Axemen were off to the championship game against Brock.

Axemen forward and Ottawa native Leonil Santil could hardly contain himself after the emotional win.

“We’ve been doing this all year,” he said. “People have been counting us out even though we’ve been in the rankings. To come here and do this in their gym, in front of their crowd, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Exhaustion from the previous night’s heroics may have played a factor in the final game. The Badgers proved to be too much for a physically and mentally drained Acadia, defeating them 64-61.

This was the second national championship for Brock head coach Ken Murray, who was behind the bench for the Badgers 1991 CIS title.

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