'Nightmare' too much for Lancers defence

Alex Brzozowicz drains 18 points from beyond the arc

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Hanging from the basketball basket

Shaun Ding

OH MAN, THIS IS A LOT HIGHER UP THAN IT LOOKS. Andrew Wedemire contemplates the effects of gravity after slamming home a basket in Wednesday night’s OUA West final against the Windsor Lancers.

The Western men’s basketball team picked an opportune time to put together one of its most complete efforts, riding red-hot shooting and stifling defensive play en route to a 98-66 shellacking of the Windsor Lancers on Wednesday.

The win gives the ’Stangs their second Ontario University Athletics West division crown in as many seasons, punches their ticket to the national championship tournament and sets up a highly-anticipated rematch with the top-ranked Carleton Ravens tomorrow afternoon in the OUA final.

Carleton defeated the Ottawa Gee-Gees 81-62 in the OUA East final on Wednesday evening.

Coming into the game, the focus for Western’s defence was on slowing down OUA West Player of the Year guard Greg Surmacz and talented big man Nigel Johnson-Tyghter. Both players had given Western fits during their previous two tilts this season.

“Surmacz, I think, is the player of the year in the country and Johnson-Tyghter is one incredible physical specimen ... they both have hurt us in our past games,” Western head coach Brad Campbell said.

“Our game plan was to try to [contain them] ... they’re going to have to earn what they get.”

While Surmacz finished with a game-high 22 points, he was silent during the decisive second and third quarters. Johnson-Tyghter was a non-factor for most of the night, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds. No other Lancer reached double digits.

It wasn’t just solid defence that won this one for the Mustangs. A balanced offence that featured four players in double figures, a decisive 49-30 edge on the glass and a deep bench kept the pressure on Windsor all night. The Lancers simply didn’t have the answers.

Western shot a robust 46.2 per cent from beyond the arc and 50 per cent from the field overall on the night.

Veteran forward Keenan Jeppesen paced the Mustangs with 20 points and 11 boards, setting the tone early on. Brad Smith added 16 points and eight rebounds, point man Matt Curtis chipped in with 12 points and four assists and sharp shooter Alex Brzozowicz added 18 points, all three pointers.

After the game, a modest Brzozowicz chalked up his big night to getting in the groove early on.

“If I make the first one, chances are I’ll be pretty good ... I made the first one and then they just kept going in,” he said.

Windsor head coach Chris Oliver was quick to praise Western’s all-around effort.

“Western did a great job. They deserved everything they got. It was a nightmare game for us,” he said.

While Western controlled the tempo from the opening tip, Surmacz kept the Lancers within striking distance with his strong play until mid-way through the second quarter.

After a Corey Boswell three pointer pulled Windsor within a point, the Lancers went ice cold from the field.

An 18-3 run to end the half featured a beautiful pass from Curtis to a streaking Jeppesen for a two-handed flush and several buckets from Smith.

With a commanding 49-33 halftime lead, Campbell saw little need to make adjustments.

“We have to continue doing what we’re doing. The game plan really doesn’t change,” he said.

In the second half, Windsor couldn’t get anything going on offence and had little luck on the other end stopping the Mustangs offensive barrage.

While another OUA West title and an automatic berth in the CIS final eight is certainly sweet, many Mustangs already have their attention focused on Carleton.

“The next game means everything. The next game means more. The only thing that matters is the next game,” Jeppesen said.

“We’re playing the [top] team in the country. They beat us here on our floor and we owe them.”

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