While not their finest effort, fourth-ranked Laurentian Voyageurs pulled away in the fourth quarter for an 82-72 win over Nipissing on the road in North Bay as 6’2″ Kadre Gray gave Vees the lead for good with an old fashioned “and 1″ with about 7 minutes remaining in a challenging win over a desperate Nipissing Lakers club fighting for their playoff lives. Gray started a 15-2 run that game Laurentian a double digit lead, erasing what was an 8 point deficit as Lakers, led by the smooth mid-range shooting of 6’4″ Jaaden Lewis, hung in for 35 minutes, who had 14 of his team-high 22 points after halftime. Marcus Lewis also had 14 in the second half, finishing with 19 and 6 rebounds. Gray finished with 25 points and 10 assists in another solid performance while 6’5″ Nelson Yengue added 18 points and 4 offensive rebounds. 6’2″ Anthony Iacoe made four threes, virtually all of them in big spots to stop Laker momentum, getting free in transition for at least two of them. Lakers are now a full two games behind U of T for the final playoff spot and finish their schedule at Laurentian (Saturday afternoon), then host Carleton and Ottawa before closing their season in Toronto for games at Ryerson and then at U of T on the final night of the season. Toronto won the previous meeting between the two teams, coming back for a four point victory in North Bay. Voyageurs are now three games clear of third place Ottawa in the battle for a first-round playoff bye. Laurentian has five games remaining: home to Nipissing on Saturday, then home to Ottawa and Carleton next weekend before closing their season at Toronto and at Ryerson on the final night of the season. Laurentian’s magic number to clinch second place is three (two vs. Ryerson): any combination of Laurentian wins and Ottawa U. losses totaling three and Vees have second place. uOttawa faces Carleton at the Capital Hoops Classic on Friday night in Kanata at the Canadian Tire Center.
In Waterloo, in a game played at the Waterloo PAC, Brock Badgers rallied from a double digit first half deficit, tightening the screws defensively for the most part in the second half despite foul trouble for 6’7″ Dani Elgadi in a 73-69 victory. The game turned emotional and was marred by a shoving incident and, unfortunately, by a questionable referees decision in the waning seconds. With Brock up 6 and about a minute and a half remaining, 6’7″ Cassidy Ryan looked to emphatically put an exclamation mark on the game attacking the basket for what would have been a game-clinching dunk. But 6’8″ freshman Ben Stevens, who continues to grow as an inside presence at both ends, met Ryan at the rim and got all ball, denying the dunk. Words were exchanged and shoving ensued with the referees choosing to call technical fouls on Laurier’s Tevaun Kokko and Elgadi, who came to the aid of their teammates. Both Kokko and Elgadi fouled out on the play. But Golden Hawks hung in, getting a long three from the right wing from incomparable 6’1″ freshman Ali Sow, who led all scorers with 33 points, to get the game back to three. Later, Golden Hawks forced a turnover in the front court, setting up the possibility of a game-tying three point effort. Unfortunately for Laurier and the fans, the lead referee chose to call 6’1″ Matt Minutillo for a moving screen trying to free up Sow and Brock survived. The call in my opinion and in the opinion of several coaches and ex-coaches watching the game (my text blew up) was incorrect and marred what could have been a very exciting finish. With all due respect to my friends with the whistles, last night’s game at Waterloo was one of the poorer officiated games in recent memory. With the victory, Brock clinches first place in the OUA West… Western Mustangs shot 8 for 15 from downtown in the first half alone, building a 23 point lead and held on against a scrappy Waterloo side for a 97-84 win in London, solidifying their hold on second place. 6’4″ Marko Kovac and 6’0″ Omar Shiddo each had 29 to lead Mustangs as the pair combined to shoot 8-17 from three. 6’6″ Nedim Hodzic got free on some isolations from the high post to continue his torrid scoring and rebounding with 33 points and 15 rebounds while fellow 6’1″ sophomore Simon Petrov added 27 for Waterloo, losers of five of their last six games. Waterloo has played the past few games without quality backup 5’11” point guard Colin Connors and 6’6″ freshman Jeff Baradziej, an impact perimeter shooter off the bench.
OUA West Standings