The past 24 hours or so have been dominated by my 12-year old’s basketball tri-meet and the re-emergence of the University of Southern California Trojans back into the NCAA football national prominence discussion after last night’s drubbing of cross-town rival UCLA at the Rose Bowl. For those who care, it was another chapter in emergence of redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold who has led Troy to 7 consecutive victories with another rivalry game next weekend at the Coliseum against Notre Dame. Darnold is already being touted as a 2017 Heisman Trophy candidate – yes I am a hype-monger when it comes to USC football – a decades-old achilles heel among many others. The 10:30 PM start last night squashed any free writing time and I hung on late into the night to ensure I didn’t miss the post-game rendition of “We are.. SC”. With a Utah win at Colorado next week, USC will get a chance to play for the Pac-12 championship likely against the winner of next weekend’s Apple Cup between Washington State and Washington. From there… who knows ! Fight On !
Getting back to our regularly scheduled programming, 6’9″ Erik Nissen had 33 points and 18 rebounds including two free throws with 8 seconds remaining as Acadia (4-2) outlasted UNB Varsity Reds (3-3) 89-88 in Wolfville. Axemen blew a late 6 point lead, falling behind as 6’2″ Spencer Dawson hit a 3 with about 40 seconds remaining. But Acadia held twice and then won it on the line in a game in which UNB was whistled for 29 fouls against only 14 for the home Axemen. Acadia shot just 6 for 23 from 3 including 1-8 for 6’1″ Nick DePalma but hung on for the exciting win… 6’5″ Theon Reefer had 22 points as the Saint Mary’s (4-2), still playing without key starters Kemar Alleyn and Osman Barrie, shot 45% and took first-half leads as large as 30 in a 93-64 pasting of UPEI Panthers (1-5). Panthers shot just 30% including 4 0f 18 from three point land, losing despite having SMU called for 24 fouls against only 15 for the Panthers… Memorial (5-1) swept winless Cape Breton this weekend, holding on for a 79-71 victory this afternoon despite playing without the services of injured 6’9″ forward Vasilije Curcic. Once again, Capers ran out of gas in the fourth quarter – this time leading by 10 at 65-55 with just 6 minutes remaining but Seahawks went on a 21-2 run led by 14 points including three 3’s by 6’3″ Austin Chambers, who finished with 22 points including 5 3’s.
In the OUA, Laurier Golden Hawks finished their game at York on a 23-12 run as 6’0″ freshman Matt Minutillo gave the Hawks the lead for good midway through the fourth and Laurier grabbed a much needed road win over Lions (2-1) in North York. 6’6″ Jayden Frederick (17 points on 4-12 shooting) gave Lions their final lead at 55-51 but 6’0″ Owen Coulthard (16 points including back-to-back threes during the game-deciding run) and Minutillo (15 points) helped bring Hawks back… Ryerson remained undefeated in league play with a 98-61 thrashing of Laurentian as five Rams hit double figures helping to build leads as large as 30 early in the third quarter. Rams held 6’2″ freshman Kadre Gray to just 7 first-half points as the exciting guard got most of his game-high 24 points when the issue was well decided… U of T Varsity Blues gave up a 14 point lead but then started the third quarter on a huge run that included 3 consecutive 3’s in an easy win over Nipissing… uOttawa Gee-Gees got 18 points and 11 rebounds from 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles in a 91-59 pasting of Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie as Thunderbirds had the unenviable task of playing arguably the top 2 teams in the country on consecutive nights – another perplexing element of the Einstein-esque OUA schedule…Windsor held offensively-challenged Lakehead to just 3 points in the first 6 minutes of the third quarter, building leads as large as 24 in an 83-69 victory in Thunder Bay. Lakehead’s schedule unfortunately was similar to Algoma’s this weekend, getting two rivals on consecutive nights – both fresh. 6’2″ Micqueel Martin had his OUA-regular-season high of 27 points and added 9 rebounds while steady Mike (“don’t call me Joe but not in a bad way”) Rocca added 21. Thunderwolves Head Coach Manny Furtado, clearly looking for more offense/perimeter shooting out of his starters, added 5’11” Kache Kopec and 6’1″ Darnell Curtin to the starting lineup this weekend, but Lakehead was just 8 for 35 from downtown against the Lancers including an 0 for 8 by Curtin who was the one Lakehead shooter making any shots consistently before last night. Lakehead averages just 63.4 ppg through 5 OUA regular season games including 23% from 3 (average of 6 for 27 per game) and 32.6% overall.
In Canada West, Alberta hammered Thompson Rivers to remain undefeated and UBC came back from a late third-quarter 8 point deficit before squandering the lead late – trailing by 1 with 2 minutes remaining – but was able to outlast Manitoba after 6’6″ Jordan Jensen-Whyte’s basket with 40 seconds remaining. Wellsie has the Canada West standings in his post from earlier today.