Mustangs come up short versus rival Brock

Badger Brad Rootes delivers a lethal dagger at the buzzer

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Mustang men’s basketball team fought valiantly in Wednesday night’s game against the Brock Badgers, but in the end they couldn’t answer to one of the conference’s best players.

Badgers guard Brad Rootes scored a game-high 27 points, including a clutch three-pointer in the dying seconds to give the Badgers a 74-68 victory over Western at Alumni Hall.

Third-year forward Brad Smith’s 17-point performance led the way for the Mustangs, who fell to 4-6.

“We battled hard and we gave a good effort,” said Western coach Brad Campbell. “In the end, some things just didn’t go our way.”

The game was entertaining from start to finish, with both teams looking to climb the tight standings in the Ontario University Athletics West Division.

Western took a 38-32 lead into halftime, thanks mostly to back-to-back three-pointers from guard Jason Milliquet. The lead quickly evaporated in the second half when Brock went on a 7-0 run.

“We had a bit of a defensive lapse for a three or four-minute period in the second half,” Campbell said. “Then in the last five minutes, we buckled down and played our usual gritty defensive style.”

The hometown crowd erupted when a Smith three-ball put the ’Stangs up by two in the final minute; unfortunately, the Badgers fought through Western’s scrappy play and Rootes was left wide open for a shot beyond the arc.

“Probably the best player in our conference beat us with a three at the end,” Campbell said. “We knew [Rootes] was probably going to score some, but part of our game plan was to limit his touches for other players, and I think, to a certain degree, we did that.

“But again, [if] you give real good players a chance at the end, they’ll hurt you " and that’s what [Rootes] did.”

Brock coach Ken Murray also showed appreciation for his top player. “[Rootes is] our leader,” Murray said. “The better he plays, the better we play.”

Campbell was impressed with Brad Smith’s offensive play.

“I thought [Brad Smith] played great,” he said. “He did a lot of the dirty work, gave some good second efforts, and if he continues to do that, he’ll have success the rest of the way.”

For firstyear Mustang Jordan Smith, Western and Brock’s intense rivalry was a new experience.

“I guess it always comes down to the wire with these guys,” Jordan Smith said. “[The difference was] just a few loose balls, a few long rebounds. We’ll have to work on that in practice.”

The win ties Brock with Guelph for second place in the division, placing them two wins behind Windsor.

“Our league is so balanced right now, every game is huge,” Murray said. “I give Western a lot of credit. They played tough right to the end.”

OUA Men’s basketball: Brock 74, UWO 68

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