OUA Quarter-Final Saturday Preview

With spots in the Wilson Cup Final Four at stake, OUA takes center stage this afternoon and evening as the 4 teams with first-round byes host quarter-final matches in Hamilton (this afternoon), Ottawa and Toronto.  McMaster scheduled their game at 2 PM – Marauders host #5 seeded Windsor Lancers in a rematch of last season’s OUA quarter-final at Mac in which the Lancers won in an upset, en route to a spot at the CIS Final 8.  Unfortunately, in what is definitely not the most aesthetically-pleasing scheduling strategy for the common OUA/CIS fan, the other three games – involving the #1, #2 and #3 teams in the country – all begin at 8 PM.  With the Wilson Cup scheduled for next weekend – where ever the leadership in the OUA resides for these matters – the league would have been much better served from a marketing perspective to try to space the games out through the day – especially in Ottawa.  Alas, we can hope/pray for better planning in the future.  But I digress…

#5 Windsor at #4 McMaster… As mentioned, the Marauders – with plans to challenge for a national championship last season – were somewhat-embarrassed on their home court by the Lancers as the CIS world saw the first real emergence of 6’4″ Alex Campbell, who had 18 points on that afternoon and then 20 the following week in Ottawa as Lancers upset the Gee-Gees to advance to last season’s Final 8.  Campbell has clearly continued his offensive dominance through this his fifth and final season, going off for 37 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals this past Wednesday as the Lancers held off the pesky Laurentian Voyageurs at home.  Both Mac and Windsor are perimeter-oriented teams with McMaster likely having any edge in the paint with 6’3″ jumping jack Rohan Boney and 6’8″ Connor Gilmore inside.  Lancers lack a legitimate rim protector and rely on 5’11” high-IQ point guard Mike Rocca and 6’3″ freshman sensation Isaiah Osborne but size is an issue.  Expect a transition-filled affair with the key to the game being how well the Marauders defend Campbell – expect Mac to attempt to make him a passer early.  Campbell had 28 in the only other meeting between the two teams in January, also at Mac.  But Marauders dominated, leading 55-32 at half en route to an easy 106-74 thrashing of the Lancers.  As it turned out, that game was the last time Windsor lost – they’ve won 10 in a row since.

# 6 Brock at #3 Carleton… Down the stetch of the regular season, the Ravens re-emerged as the lock-down defending and rebounding club that has been the foundation of their success over the past decade and a half in the Smart era.  Badgers young guards 6’0″ freshman Tyler Brown and reserve Nolan McKenzie, will be tested by 6’2″ Kaza Keene, 6’4″ Connor Wood and company.  While 6’7″ Dani Elgadi is a capable scorer and 6’5″ Johnell Simpson shoots it in streaks, Brock’s guards must be able to get free to find their star scorers.  Expect guard play to be the determining factor as to whether or not Brock can fashion what would be a meaningful upset.  Ravens won 90-65 at Brock in their regular season meeting as Badgers scored just 12 points in the final 13 minutes of the game.

#7 Queen’s at #2 Ottawa… Gee-Gees took the first game in late January at Montpetit Hall, leading comfortably through out the game by as many as 21 – it was 19 early in the second quarter as 6’1″ Mike L’Africain, my choice for OUA Player-of-the-Year, had 30 points in the absence of 6’3″ Caleb Agada who had just hurt in his ankle and did not play.  Gee-Gees forced 19 Gaels turnovers including 10 by 6’3″ Suhkpreet Singh and held emerging star 6’6″ forward Tanner Graham to just 1 point on that night.  Queen’s will have to convert defensively in transition and try to keep the game at a reasonable pace.  Guard play will be key and the veteran Gee-Gees front court, led by sure-fire All-Canadian L’Africain, veteran Medhi Tihani and Agada have what appears to be a large advantage over Gaels Sammy Ayisi and Mark Paclibar.  Expect Agada to be entrusted with checking Singh, who has fashioned an all-star season.  Inside, 6’8″ Ryall Stroud had the best overall game of his career on Wednesday in the win over U of T.  Ottawa has been without 6’6″ Brody Maracle for the last 3 games however expect him and 6’8″ Nathan McCarthy to be ready to go.

#9 Lakehead at #1 Ryerson…  With all due respect, Thunderwolves must get back in transition and play slow to have any chance.  In their recent game in Thunder Bay, Rams led by 31 early in the fourth (final spread of 13 was deceiving) and made 15 for their first 24 threes of the game, many in transition to get to the blow out win early.  Again guard play will be key as 6’0″ Henry Tan of Lakehead, who came alive late vs. Western after struggling for much of the last 2-3 games of the season, must be able to control tempo and create off the dribble.  Rams have too many weapons on the wing with 6’5″ Aaron Best, 6’3″ Adika Peter-McNeilly, 6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa and 6’7″ J.V. Mukama while Lakehead has only one real quality defender in 6’4″ Alexandre Robichaud – pick your poison.  A Lakehead win would be a monumental upset.

The remaining top seeded winner will host next weekend’s OUA Wilson Cup Final 4.



OUA: First Round playoff previews


OUA first-round match ups go tomorrow (Wednesday) night with all games beginning at 8 PM ET and all available on OUA.TV.

#9 Lakehead at #8 Western  Having just met this past Friday, also in London, with Mustangs dominating during a key stretch of the third quarter to win going away, 84-69, one would expect Mustangs to be heavily favored.  While 6’3″ Greg Morrow (25 points, 7 rebounds) had his usual sterling offensive effort, Western got a career-high 29 points from 6’5″ Tony Spiridis, mostly in the paint, to break open what was a 5 point game late in the second quarter.  Spiridis had 22 second-half points including 10 during a 29-7 run that broke the game open and extended Mustangs lead to 29.  While Thunderwolves got another consistent effort from 6’5″ Bakarius Dinkins inside, both 6’0″ Henry Tan and 6’4″ Alexandre Robichaud struggled offensively.  Robichaud will likely be tasked with keeping Morrow in check.  Both teams need to get secondary scoring – this past Friday, Western got it from Spiridis and 6’5″ Peter Scholtes and dominated.  Mustangs are looking to avenge last season’s upset home playoff loss to Laurier with a victory but this game should be much tighter than this past Friday.

#10 Toronto at #7 Queen’s  Another re-match from this past weekend when the Blues jumped out to leads as high as 13 in the first half – 6’0″ freshman Devon Williams knocked down 3 3’s on consecutive possessions to help build the lead.  But Gaels recovered for an 81-73 victory that, although highlighted by 23 points from lefty Andrew Mavety – 13 in the first half to keep Queen’s close, was actually a well-balanced effort as 8 different Gaels scored in the second half.  Still Mavety’s 3 gave Queen’s the lead for good with about 8 minutes remaining.  Blues out-fouled Queen’s 21-14 and need to get more than a 6 for 22 effort from the floor from star forward Devin Johnson to pull off the upset.  Still, with very little to lose given the new life provided, Toronto should be loose – expect another tight affair between two closely matched teams.  6’5″ Tanner Graham could be the difference maker.

#11 Laurier at #6 Brock  Badgers are happy to get a home playoff game and dominated the Golden Hawks in their only meeting in Waterloo before Christmas as 6’5″ Dani Elgadi dominated.  Hawks however are a very dangerous team which plays with a ton of confidence under Head Coach Peter Campbell, with added motivation given Coach Campbell is in his final season.  Given how Campbell likes to play and the free reigns he gives his shooters, Laurier teams are rarely tight in a playoff setting – we saw how this was of benefit last season at Western.  While the season records and head-to-head meeting would have most favor the Badgers, if Laurier starts making shots early, this could be a closer game than expected.

#12 Laurentian at #5 Windsor  The Lancers finished the season strong albeit with all tough games at home (9-1 at St. Denis Center this season) and have a high-end difference maker in 6’5″ Alex Campbell.  Although the Voyageurs are the 12th seed and have won just 2 of their past 10 games, Laurentian did play uOttawa tough for a couple of quarters and took Brock to OT in St. Catharines in recent games.  Head-to-head during the regular season, Lancers took a double digit lead in the second quarter at home in early February and won 82-62 with Vees coming no closer than 8 points in the second half.  Windsor starting point guard Mike Rocca missed part of the Lakehead game and all of the Algoma game this past weekend but should be ready to play tomorrow night.

Winners advance to Saturday’s sudden death quarter-final games:

Winner Laurentian/Windsor at McMaster 2 PM ET

Winner Queen’s/Toronto at Ottawa 8 PM ET?

Winner Laurier/Brock at Carleton 8 PM ET?

Winner Lakehead/Western at Ryerson 8 PM ET?

CANHoops.ca OUA 2015-16 All-Stars

Given the relative balance of the OUA this season – unlike many recent seasons the lack of overt dominance made selecting First Team all-stars and league MVP a bit more challenging.  Still, in my opinion, my choice for MVP proved his meddle throughout the most important pieces of the season and with several dominant performances earned this honour… more below…

First Team OUA All-Stars

6’1″ Michael L’Africain, uOttawa (5th Year guard)… The fifth-year pg took the “horses” reigns (so-to-speak), especially in the second half of the season when Gee-Gees lost star wing Caleb Agada for an extended period.  In the 12 games after the Holidays, L’Africain averaged 22.5 ppg and his value was more than evident when he had to sit with foul trouble in the second half of the Ryerson game, allowing Rams to make their run back to win.  Overall season numbers are stellar:  20.4 PPG, 48% FG, 42% from 3, 86% FT% and 5.3 assists per game (2nd in OUA).  Well-deserving of a First-team all-star and my choice for OUA Player-of-the-Year.

6’5″ Aaron Best, Ryerson (5th Year wing)… Bounced back after a first-half injury to propel the Rams to their first-ever #1 regular season OUA ranking and in position to host the Wilson Cup, Best high-flying acrobatics were on display as he unofficially led the OUA in highlight-reel dunks with several spectacular transition finishes that turned momentum in games.  Best was an efficient shooter (51% FG, 43.5% 3 pt. FG) and was in the Top 10 in both scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg).  The fifth-year senior was the main catalyst in Ryerson’s top finish.

6’7″ Dani Elgadi, Brock (3rd Year forward)… The clever forward led the Badgers to their first playoff appearance in 4 seasons with a solid offensive campaign (19.9 ppg/11.7 rpg) with 9 games of 20+ points and a season-high 36 in last Wednesday’s loss to Mac.  Still, Brock did stumble down the stretch, finishing the season winning just 5 of their final 10 games and while many had been touting him for OUA POY and All-Canadian, Elgadi’s numbers against the top teams in the country were just ordinary:  in consecutive home games against Carleton and Ottawa, Elgadi shot just 8 for 28 and averaged just 12 ppg vs. his season average of 19.9 ppg.  Still, the Badgers remain a Top 10 team ostensibly because of the terrific season Elgadi fashioned.

6’4″ Leon Alexander, McMaster (4th year wing)… With 27 points in the upset win vs. Ottawa and 28 at Brock this past Wednesday night, the bulky, athletic, rim-attacking wing produced his best when it mattered most, leading Mac to a first-round playoff bye and home quarter-final game.  His value to McMaster was also evident at Lakehead when he missed the second game – one of only 3 Mac losses after Christmas.  Alexander averaged a team-leading 18.8 ppg and almost 6 rebounds per game for #4 seeded team in the province.

6’4″ Alex Campbell, Windsor (5th Year wing)… Arguably the reason why Windsor got the #5 seed winning their last 9 games in a row.  Campbell had numerous games of 20+ points and finished among the league leaders in scoring (21.5 ppg), rebounding (6.6 rpg) and assists (3.2 per game).  If history repeats, expect his game to escalate in the post-season.

Second Team OUA All-Stars

6’3″ Greg Morrow, Western (5th year wing)… OUA’s leading scorer who faced double and triple teams all season.  With a better team record and supporting cast could have easily been a first-teamer and arguably still should be.

6’2″ Kaza Keene, Carleton (4th year guard)… Led the entire OUA in assists with 6.6 per game and was Ravens most consistently creative offensive player.  The main decision maker on the #3 team in Canada.

6’3″ Sukhpreet Singh, Queen’s (4th year wing)… With several 30+ point games in the second half of the season including 39 at Carleton, 36 vs. Lakehead and 30 vs. Windsor down the stretch, Singh was the main offensive driver in Gaels second place finish and home playoff game.

6’3″ Adika Peter-McNeilly, Ryerson (4th Year wing)… While the numbers do not at first glance appear to be All-Star-esque (15.1 ppg), Peter-McNeilly has been a solid leader for the #1 seeded team in the OUA and essentially rescued Rams this past weekend with a dramatic three at Queen’s.

6’5″ Guillaume Boucard, Carleton (5th year forward)… Undersized post who battled injuries early but was a consistent producer with surprisingly good numbers (14.6 ppg, 54% FG, 56% 3PG, 5.5 rpg, 2.2 apg).

Third Team OUA All-Stars

6’3″ Devin Johnson, Toronto (4th year forward)… Blues top player who averaged 22.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

6’3″ Caleb Agada, uOttawa (4th year wing)… Was a Player-of-the-Year candidate prior to his injury which slowed him down immensely.  When healthy, he is an All-Canadian-type talent.  Maybe a little harsh for missing 5 games plus not being 100% for a couple of others.  Certainly would have pushed L’Africain for POY if healthy.

6’5″ Bakarius Dinkins, Lakehead (5th year forward)… Tough post player who had several big games including keying two big home wins at home vs. McMaster.

6’5″ Johnell Simpson, Brock (2nd year forward)… Consistent scorer who sometimes is prone to tough shot selection but the slick forward scored in double figures in all but one game.  Averaged 16.6 ppg but shot just 39% from the floor and 32% from the three.

6’5″ Troy Joseph, McMaster (5th year forward)… Had a solid finish to the season, highlighted by 7-9 shooting from 3 in Marauders most important win of the season, a comeback victory over uOttawa.  Averaged 13.6 ppg and 6.5 rpg.



Mike L’Africain, uOttawa


OUA All-Freshman Team:

Simon Mikre, Laurier

Isiah Osborne, Windsor

Devon Williams, Toronto

Anthony Iacoe, Laurentian

Tyler Brown, Brock.


OUA: Rams officially clinch #1 seed, T-Wolves/Lions back-in to playoffs

#1 Ryerson 81, #10 York 74  6’3″ Adika Peter-McNeilly came alive after halftime and the Rams stiffened defensively late, pushing up full court to play the game at a faster pace to clinch top seed in the OUA playoffs.  6’5″ Aaron Best had a big first-half and put a large exclamation point on the game with an ally-oop slam that energized his club and led to the decisive run.  With Brock’s win at Guelph, the Rams clinch the top seed in the OUA playoffs (see below).  Despite the loss, the Lions qualify for the playoffs by virtue of Toronto’s loss in Kingston and York (#10 seed) will travel to Kingston to face #7 Queen’s.  Rams played without 6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa out with a leg injury while 6’7″ Jean-Victor Mukama played sparingly.

#6 Queen’s 81, Toronto 73  Gaels clinched the #7 seed in the OUA playoffs, coming back from a double-digit deficit behind lefty three-point specialist Andrew Mavety who knocked down 5-6 3’s to finish with a game-high 23 points.  6’6″ Tanner Graham, on the path to becoming a future OUA all-star, showed off his versatile inside/out game with 15 points and 12 rebounds including a pair of threes as the Gaels clinched a home playoff game this coming Wednesday against #10 York and eliminated the Varsity Blues from playoff contention.

#7 Brock 65, Guelph 62  Badgers made all the key plays down the stretch and held the home-town Gryphs to just 6 fourth-quarter points and eliminated Guelph from post-season play.  With the victory, Brock moves down in the OUA seedings to #6 and will host #10 Laurier on Wednesday in a first-round playoff game.

#5 Windsor 81, Lakehead 60  The Lancers behind sure-fire OUA all-star Alex Campbell dominated from virtually the beginning to put the Thunderwolves on the brink of elimination – however with Guelph’s loss Lakehead (#9 seed) qualifies for the post-season.  #5 Lancers host #12 Laurentian while T-Wolves travel to #8 Western in a rematch of last night’s dominant Mustangs victory.

#2 Ottawa defeated #12 Laurentian and #3 Carleton defeated Nipissing.

With tonight’s results, the following are first-round playoff match-ups for this coming Wednesday night:

#12 Laurentian at #5 Windsor

#11 Laurier at #6 Brock

#10 York at #7 Queen’s

#9 Lakehead at #10 Western

Top 4 seeds are as follows:

#1 Ryerson

#2 Ottawa

#3 Carleton

#4 McMaster


OUA: Blues/Lions battle for final spot

Third-place in the OUA East could be decided as early as this evening when U of T Varsity Blues travel to North York to face York Lions.  Blues have a one game lead and captured a two-point win in the first meeting between the two clubs at Goldring Center before Christmas.  With a victory tonight, the Blues clinch however a loss still does not eliminate Toronto – Blues can still qualify with a win at Queen’s on Saturday night coupled with a Lions loss at home to first-place Ryerson.  The Rams are in Kingston tonight to face the Gaels in a game that has only RPI seeding repercussions – both teams have made the 12 team OUA playoffs.

In Guelph, the Gryphons are fighting for their playoff lives as they host McMaster.  Marauders pounded Guelph 99-77 in late November in Hamilton.  Guelph owns the tie-breaker with third-place Lakehead but trails the Thunderwolves by one game.  Lakehead continues to control their own destiny:  wins this weekend at Western (tonight) and at Windsor (Saturday) assure Lakehead of third place in the OUA Central.

Ottawa and Carleton have weekend games at Laurentian and Nipissing this weekend beginning tonight.

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TONIGHT, here would be the first-round pairings:

#12 Laurentian at #5 Brock

#11 Laurier at  #6 Windsor

#10 Toronto at #7 Lakehead

#9 Western at #8 Queen’s

#1 Ottawa, #2 Ryerson, #3 Carleton and #4 McMaster would all gain byes and host quarter-final games.

Expect this to change after tonight and tomorrow night however.

OUA: Alexander, Boney put Mac on brink of #4 seed

McMaster 80, Brock 69  6’4″ Leon Alexander had 17 of his team-high 28 points after halftime, attacking the rim with reckless abandon and finishing with a variety of creative moves as the Marauders pulled away during a 26-11 ten minute stretch late to clinch the OUA Central and grab hold of #4 seed in OUA RPI-based playoff seeding.  6’3″ Rohan Boney added 16 for Mac, 13 in the first half including a resounding two-hand slam off an aggressive take the rim as Marauders exposed Brock’s lack of a consistent rim protector by not settling.  Alexander was at his finest, scoring 10 points during the game-deciding run which included a two-handed hammer of his own.  Alexander and Boney combined to shoot 18 for 32 from the field in a tremendous effort by the pair of athletic wings.

The game featured several high-end athletic plays as Brock’s 6’5″ forward Dani Elgadi (game-high 36 points, 12 rebounds) had two in-traffic dunks, the first on a blow-by take to the rim early in the first quarter that ignited the crowd at the Meridian Center that did not look close to being full; Elgadi had Brock’s first 11 points.  6’5″ Johnell Simpson (16 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists but only 5 points after halftime) was also instrumental in keeping Brock to within 3 at the half, knocking down a couple of long 3’s and getting to the rim with a couple of tear-drop finishes but Badgers got little else after their Big Two.  Elgadi and Simpson had 30 of Brock 34 first-half points and finished a combined 19 of 40 from the floor – the rest of the Badgers were a collective 5 for 28 as starters Matt Marshall and Ryan Bennett struggled in this playoff-atmosphere game.

While there were several top-end athletic plays/dunks, much of the game was played amid a series of turnovers, missed shots and questionable decisions.  The teams shot a combined 5 for 29 from three and had 36 turnovers.

Marauders have a strong first six or seven but lack that knock down shooter that will be required when teams are bigger and longer around the rim.  Still, Mac is now in a strong position to gain a first-round bye and host a quarter-final playoff game that could be against Brock depending upon how both teams (and others) finish their season.  Both Mac and Brock travel to Guelph Friday and Saturday respectively.  The Marauders are solidly in the #4 seed and also remain in the CIS Final 8 wild card hunt so it would be surprising if coach Amos Connolly and group provide anything but their top effort at Guelph on Friday.

The Badgers continue to lament a lack of secondary scoring other than Elgadi and Simpson.  6’7″ Marshall, playing the final home game of his career, plays hard but is simply not strong or athletic enough to draw consistent double downs offensively or impactful enough to deter opponents from attacking the rim.  Bennett, while a very good shooter when his feet are set and the ball is delivered off of rotations, struggles when opponents can run him off the three point line.  Brock’s point guard play and bench contributions simply did not meet the challenge this evening either.

Here is a link to Martin Timmerman’s update OUA RPI-based ranking.

Lots can still change including if Lakehead hangs on to their playoff spot (at Western and at Windsor; two wins and they clinch), Ryerson will likely jump to the #1 seed (if they can win at York and at Queen’s) while Ottawa would gain #1 seed if Guelph is able to jump over Lakehead – note that Guelph owns the tie-breaker.

OUA: Mac at Brock showdown for 1st place/4th in RPI

Tonight’s McMaster at Brock tussle scheduled for 8 PM ET at the St. Catharines Meridian Center provides another showcase for CIS/OUA basketball in a beautiful venue well-sized for this type of game.  Expect a crowd of greater than 3,000 assuming the weather holds out and hopefully a quick, fast-paced game typical of both teams given the relative lack of size and the strong athleticism both teams possess on the wings especially.

Marauders will try to avenge an 83-75 loss at home to the Badgers on the opening night of the season in November when Badgers took over in the third quarter beating Mac up on the glass – 20 offensive rebounds – and surprisingly got out and scored in transition, giving the Marauders a taste of their own medicine.  Mac was shaken early in that game as 6’7″ Connor Gilmore, their emerging sophomore big who represents most of Mac’s quality rim protection and rebounding/size up front, went down in the very first minute with an ankle injury that changed the complexion of the game immediately.

Not only did Brock dominate inside, Badgers forced 23 turnovers in that game with their quickness and won despite losing three starters:  Johnell Simpson, freshman guard Tyler Brown and Ryan Bennett to fouls.  6’8″ Matt Marshall, 15 points and 13 assists thrived in Gilmore’s absence while 6’5″ Dani Elgadi continued his fine early season play – at that time Brock was undefeated and many were touting Elgadi as an early Player-of-the-year candidate and he did not disappoint with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Fast forward to tonight and the Badgers are reeling somewhat as Elgadi has had an uneven second-half of the season, Simpson’s shot selection and offensive decision-making in general continues to elicit the occasional head-scratch and Brock’s depth continues to be questioned.  Brock is just 4-4 in their past 8 games and had two decisive losses at home against Carleton and Brock plus a narrow OT win over Laurentian this past weekend.  Good news for Brock is that they have been relatively healthy all season long and now have an emerging high end guard in the underrated Brown, a freshman from Hamilton who should have extra incentive to perform against his hometown school in a big game.

McMaster conversely has struggled with injuries leading to a different line-ups for many games this season:  Gilmore, 6’3″ Rohan Boney, 6’1″ David McCulloch and 6’0″ Trevon McNeil – all solid top-of-the-rotation contributors  – have all missed time during various parts of the season.  McNeil was injured in the Ottawa game, playing only 2 minutes and came back off the bench Saturday against Laurentian so he should be ready for tonight.  Gilmore, McCulloch and Boney all missed time in the first half so Marauders should be ready with a full line-up this evening.

The game is critical for both teams as the winner will take what, albeit without supporting Ph.D. analysis, would be a stranglehold on the #4 seed in the OUA RPI-based playoff seedings.  4th place results in a first-round bye and, maybe as importantly, home court advantage for a sudden death quarter-final game very likely against the #5 seed.  Loser falls back into the quagmire of possibilities that include several other teams and depending upon subsequent results:  both Mac and Brock finish their regular season on Friday and Saturday respectively at Guelph, could put tonight’s losing team down to a seed as low as #7.

Expect a wonderful show to be put on by Robert Hilson and the gang at Brock U. and let’s hope the Niagara Region supports a sell-out crowd on the way back to the glory days of OUA basketball in Southern Ontario when 8-10,000 fans at Copps Coliseum for championship events was common place.



OUA: Campbell, Rocca lead Lancers 3 pt onslaught

Windsor 78, Western 72  Fourth-year 5’10” point guard Joe Rocca knocked down back-to-back 3’s early in the fourth quarter, one off a sweet draw-and-kick feed from 6’4″ Alex Campbell, who himself came alive offensively after halftime including making a pair of shot-clocking-beating 3’s in the fourth quarter, and Windsor used a game-deciding 17-2 run to break it open a tie game late in the third as the Lancers clinched top spot in the OUA West with a solid road win at Alumni Hall in London.  Campbell made several big offensive plays when it counted, going 4 for 5 from 3 as Lancers shot 50% from the floor, guaranteeing themselves a home playoff game and avenging a 20 point home loss to the Mustangs before the Holidays.

The Mustangs stayed in the game through three quarters again on the heroics of 6’3″ Greg Morrow who finished with a game-high 28 points but missed several make-able layups in the fourth and continues to struggle at the line going just 2 for 6 including a pair of misses that hurt Western down the stretch as they made one final run to cut it to 4 with just seconds remaining.  But Windsor broke pressure and 6’3″ freshman Isiah Osborne (19 points, most of them in the first half) finished with a two-handed slam to close the game.

Western got strong production offensively from 6’5″ lefty Peter Scholtes, who led their final late run finishing with 27 points on 10-18 shooting however Mustangs coach Brad Campbell continues to lament the lack of secondary scoring from his supporting players:  Morrow and Scholtes combined to go 23 for 41 from the floor (55 of the 72 Mustang points) while the rest of the roster combined to go just 5 for 18 including a pair of desperation 3’s by 6’5″ Anthony Spiridis in the final moments that made the score look closer than it was.  Windsor made just 1 of their first 11 threes in the game until Spiridis and Scholtes knocked some down late.

The Lancers are an intriguing bunch led by the dynamic Campbell and pesky Rocca, a lefty who pushes into the heart of the “d” consistently and went 3-7 from downtown.  Osborne is an athletic wing who is likely to be Lancers next star attraction.  6’4″ Tyler Persaud, a spot up 3 point shooter with a limited role on prior Lancer teams, has worked his way into a more workmanlike role, working hard on the offensive glass – he had a pair of important put-backs during the key second-half run and finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds on 7-8 shooting.  Windsor certainly must be considered as a home playoff game type of team – Lancers currently sit #6 in the OUA RPI – and may work their way into the #4 seed to host a quarter-final game.  Time will tell if Lancers are deep enough to compete with the top 3 teams in the conference.

Both teams host Algoma and Lakehead next weekend in games that may or may not count in the RPI depending upon what Lakehead does.  After last night’s dramatic one-point loss at home to York, Algoma has been eliminated from playoff contention.

OUA West Standings

Windsor 12-6

Western 9-9

Laurier 7-11

Algoma 4-13

Waterloo 1-17

OUA: Guelph creeps closer to Lakehead

Guelph 84, Toronto 79  Gryphons held off a late Varsity Blues rally led by 6’5″ Devin Johnson to move closer to a playoff spot in the OUA Central.  Gryphs stormed back from an 8 point halftime deficit to take a one point lead late.  Blues had the ball with 15 seconds left but 6’3″ Sage Usher turned it over trying to split a ball screen hedge and Daniel Dooley made 2 free throws to seal it.  Johnson had 33 to lead all scorers but missed a bunny inside with Toronto down 3 and just 6 seconds left that closed the books.

York 68, Algoma 67  In a wild finish, 6’5″ Nathan Culbreath finished a baby hook from 4 feet off a nice in-bounds play with just 3.2 seconds remaining as the Lions survived in the Soo.  Algoma had taken a one-point lead with 6 seconds left after Andre Barber stripped a York player on a triple-team at half court and fed 6’7″ Ren Gum for a thunderdous two-handed breakaway slam to give the Thunderbirds what looked like the game winning bucket.  But Lions got the ball under their basket and Culbreath made no mistake.  Jermaine Lyle‘s attempt at a game-winning 3 from the right wing at the buzzer came off and the Lions moved closer to U of T for third in the OUA East.

Ryerson 78, Lakehead 65   The Rams burst out to an early 20 point lead and coasted to an easy win at the Thunderdome.  6’5″ Aaron Best had most of 15 points in the first half as Ryerson made 11 of their first 14 shots from downtown to build leads as large as 24 midway through the second quarter.  Rams again played without 6’7″ J.V. Mukama and 6’6″ Juwon Grannum.  Lakehead hosts Toronto tomorrow night.

Brock 70, Laurentian 67 OT  5’11” Nolan McKenzie had the go-ahead bucket in OT after Voyageurs had a chance to win the game on the final possession of regulation as Badgers survived at home.

OUA: Plenty of playoff-implication action

While most of the 12 participants in the OUA playoffs have been decided, there remains some mystery as to a couple of the final spots, specifically in the OUA Central and East.  Guelph’s shocking win at home over #1 Ryerson on Wednesday pushed the Gryphons (8-8) to within a game and a half of third place Lakehead (9-6).  Both teams are in action this evening with Lakehead hosting the first-place Rams in Thunder Bay while Guelph hosts U of T Varsity Blues.  Guelph owns the tie-breaker with Lakehead after the teams split a pair of games in Thunder Bay in November but Gryphs have the point spread.  The teams have completed their head-to-head schedule in the regular season.

The Blues are in their own race for the final playoff spot in the East, 2 1/2 games ahead of York with the Lions in Sault Ste. Marie to face Algoma – which needs to win every one of their remaining games and hope Laurier loses their final 3 including Hawks finale at home to Waterloo.  Toronto needs two wins in their final 4 games to clinch the spot – Toronto travels to Tait McKenzie at York next Friday.

Laurentian holds a two-game lead on Nipissing in the East.  Both teams are in Southern Ontario tonight and tomorrow facing Brock/McMaster and each complete the regular season next weekend at home with games against #2 uOttawa and #3 Carleton.

The Gee-Gees and Ravens host Waterloo and Laurier as Golden Hawks coach Peter Campbell makes what likely will be the final visit of his career to Ottawa as Head Coach.

We will be watching closely the Ryerson/Lakehead and U of T/Guelph games, which are likely to bring the most clarity to playoff positions (and potentially RPI standings) of any of the games this evening.