Laurentian (4-6, 5-10) 95, McMaster (12-5, 4-5) 87... It has been an eventful, somewhat-challenging year for coach Shawn Swords and his Voyageurs program, beginning in September with season-ending injuries saddling two key recruits and then allegations of inappropriate behavior during a team function that were later resolved. Given the roster churn and distractions, observers never really could get a proper sense of how good the Voyageurs were or could be. After last night’s impressive victory at home against the Marauders, Laurentian may have taken that next step toward becoming a team that will push into a Top 10 discussion at some point.
Using a dynamic transition game that led to several easy scores, a scorching 8 for 12 effort from three-point land after halftime and 22 offensive rebounds, the Voyageurs cruised to an 8 point win, getting strong performances from several different areas including 6’2″ veteran guard David Aromolaran, who bounced back with his finest effort of the season (26 points including 16 in the second half, 4 rebounds and 5 assists), joining four Vees in double figures. Laurentian also dominated the offensive glass, leading to a 57 point second half that came on 55% shooting from the floor including the sizzling stats from downtown.
The game was a hotly contested affair with athletes putting constant pressure on a somewhat-frazzled referee crew that handed out several technical fouls but in their defense in some cases had to deal with questionable tactics from both sides: Voyageurs bench was whistled for verbally disrupting a Mac three-point shot in front of their bench while at least twice McMaster three-point shooters kicked their legs out and flopped on three pointers, getting away with it once but not the second time.
Laurentian did struggle to find a proper matchup for Mac’s 6’4″ forward Rohan Boney, who continually backed his man down or attacked the rim to finish or find open teammates, finishing with what is likely a career-high 32 points, adding 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. Vees best defender, 6’5″ Nelson Yengue, spent more time guarding 6’7″ Connor Gilmore (22 points, 7 rebounds) and was in foul trouble all night – picking up 3 in the first half before fouling out.
6’2″ freshman Kadre Gray was solid as a facilitator for Laurentian as the Marauders tried to take the ball out of his hands generally but the wily guard adjusted, doling out 8 assists to go with his 19 points and 6 rebounds. 6’0″ lefty Anthony Iacoe shook off a slow start with all 8 of his points in the second half, seemingly all at key times while playing the entire second and 36 minutes in total and 6’3″ O.J. Watson came off the bench to score 10 of his 12 in the second half.
Marauders again relied almost exclusively on Boney, Gilmore and 6’2″ David McCulloch for their offense; the rest of the roster went just 7 for 15 from the floor and simply did not have the depth or athleticism to deal with Laurentian’s transition game and energy on the glass.
Marauders host Laurier Golden Hawks this Wednesday night in Hamilton while the Voyageurs will be tested next weekend on their trip to the Nation’s Capital where they get uOttawa on Friday and Carleton Ravens on Saturday.
In other OUA games last night, there was one upset as Nipissing Lakers came from behind late to defeat visiting Brock Badgers 69-66, taking the lead for good with 4 minutes remaining on a clutch three by 6’3″ freshman Jaaden Lewis and holding on for the win despite a frantic, turnover-filled final minute. 6’0″ Ismael Kaba had five 3’s and 18 points to lead the Lakers while 6’6″ freshman Daniel Cayer had 19 to lead Brock, which got only 12 points (5-16 shooting) and 5 turnovers – including one in the waning moments – from 6’7″ Dani Elgadi… In Waterloo, #1 Carleton hammered the host Warriors 101-60 as 6’4″ Connor Wood had 22 points and 7 rebounds; #3 Ottawa pulled away for an 87-58 win at Laurier as 6’3″ Caleb Agada had 21 points and 10 rebounds while 6’7″ Brody Maracle added 15 points and 9 boards against the Golden Hawks front line. In London, Western turned away York Lions 81-71 despite another stellar offensive effort from Lions 6’5″ Brandon Ramirez who finished with 34 points and 8 rebounds, his second consecutive 30+ point game… The Varsity Blues pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 74-64 win over Lakehead as 6’5″ Devin Johnson had 12 of his game-high 28 points in the decisive fourth, adding 10 rebounds for a double-double… 6’4″ Ammanuel Diressa had 30 points while 6’5″ freshman Keevon Small added a career-high 26 in Ryerson’s 98-67 win over Guelph as the Rams went 13 for 27 from downtown.