Jeppesen dominates in back-to-back wins over Lakehead

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs men's basketball

Brett Higgs

DRIVIN’ HARDER TO THE HOLE THAN ... A GOLF BALL. GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER. Brad Smith drives past a Lakehead defender in Saturday’s game against the Thunderwolves. The ’Stangs went on to win both games against Lakehead this weekend.

The Western men’s basketball team showed its toughness in a 77-68 win over the Lakehead Thunderwolves last Friday.

Earlier in the week, several Mustangs were battling injury and the flu, contributing to the team’s poor offensive execution. Western committed 17 turnovers, as a result of careless passes and miscommunications. However, the Mustangs showed their resiliency and relied on their gritty defence and inside game to hold Lakehead’s run.

“You got to give them credit, they came out and played hard,” Mustangs forward Keenan Jeppesen said. “We had a week where a lot of guys were sick and were battling injury.”

Jeppesen put together a solid performance finishing with 13 points and 16 rebounds. He managed to out-rebound the provincial leader in the category, Lakehead forward Yoosrie Salhia, who finished with 14.

Jeppesen also grabbed three steals and worked his way to the charity stripe, converting on nine of 10 free throws.

The difference in this contest was the first quarter where Western held Lakehead to just four points. Initially both teams struggled on the offensive end until Mustangs guard Ryan Barbeau entered the game. Barbeau converted three straight baskets while showcasing his speed and ability to get to the basket. On the next two possessions he created open looks for forward Garrett Olexiuk who scored on both lay-ups.

“It’s how I try to play every game,” Barbeau said. “I come in and try to be energetic, give some of the guys a break and today my shots were falling for me.”

Barbeau’s quickness and energy were instrumental in sparking Western’s stagnant first quarter offence and in building the first half lead of 36-23. His aggressive mentality for getting to the rim and scoring in the paint translated to his teammates. He finished with 16 points, 12 of them in the first half and shot seven for 10 from the field.

Mustangs head coach Brad Campbell acknowledged Barbeau’s play.

“Ryan was tremendous in transition and that was the spark we needed to get the win,” he said.

In the second half, Lakehead continued to battle and managed to narrow what was once an 18-point gap. They started off the quarter with several baskets in the paint, which Western did not allow in the first half.

These easy baskets allowed Lakehead to gain momentum and ignited their perimetre game. The Thunderwolves managed to hit four three-pointers towards the end of the quarter lead by guard Greg Carter " who was the game’s leading scorer with 20 points. Carter made seven of 15 baskets from the floor, with four of eight coming from behind the arc. These efforts brought his team within five but Western made big plays down the stretch and converted their free throws to maintain the lead.

“After the first quarter we played a lot better defence,” Lakehead coach Scott Morrison said.

“They outworked us early in the game. I thought that we were a little more desperate down the stretch; we got a few more guys on the glass and had a few more bounces going our way.”

The Mustangs defeated the Thunderwolves 87-58 in their second game of the weekend, improving their record to 15-3 with two games remaining in the regular season.

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