Curtis' finesse fuels Western comeback

Victory brings 'Stangs closer to provincial title

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Celebration hug

Shaun Ding

FLYING HIGH. The Waterloo Warriors could not keep the Western men’s basketball team down on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Hall. The Mustangs came back from an early deficit to win 74-62.

The Western men’s basketball team rallied back from an early deficit this past Saturday against the Waterloo Warriors to secure a 74-62 victory in front of a packed house at Alumni Hall.

After falling behind early on, Western relied on veteran leadership to ignite its comeback and eventually took the lead. The leadership came in the form of two fifth-year players, guard Matt Curtis and forward Brad Smith, carried the team and made big plays when their teammates were struggling.

“Matt Curtis had a phenomenal second half,” Western head coach Brad Campbell said. “He’s our leader. He was unbelievable in the second half and he’s the reason; I think he carried us to victory today.”

Curtis did not have the greatest first half, which contributed to the ’Stangs’ slow start. He pushed through the rough patch, finishing the game with 14 points, six rebounds and six steals but it was his intangibles that stood out and ultimately won the game.

Jump for the hoop

Curtis’ contribution was more than numbers on a stat sheet. He made big shots and plays when the team needed a boost and with three consecutive three-pointers to end the third quarter, he gave Western its first lead of the game.

Curtis came up with several crucial steals in the third quarter, allowing Western to remain close even when they were not scoring.

“I just trusted my stroke and let it fly,” Curtis, who played a game-high 38 minutes, said. “Once it’s in the air, I just hoped it would go in. I have been waiting all year for those to drop and it was great that they went in today.”

Mustangs leading scorer Smith had an outstanding game as well, finishing with team highs in points, rebounds and assists.

Smith was the go-to guy in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 26 points in the final frame to maintain Western’s lead. He dominated the offensive glass, pulling down six offensive boards, many of which led to put back baskets.

Jumping high for the ball

Warriors head coach Tom Kieswetter acknowledged Curtis and Smith’s role in taking the game away from Waterloo.

“Two names: Brad Smith was unstoppable and Curtis down the stretch made the decisions and hit a couple of key shots,” he said. “That was the deciding moment and the turning point of the game.”

Although Western topped Waterloo for the third time this season, the game was no cakewalk. In fact, Waterloo appeared to be the aggressor early on, playing with tremendous confidence. Things were not looking good for the Purple and Silver as Waterloo built a 25-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. The tables turned when Western raised its intensity level to match its opponents.

“Waterloo came out with a lot of energy; they knew they were going to have to in order to beat us here,” Curtis said. “We just came out with a lot of energy in the second half and took it too them.”

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