Laurier's Vlad Matovic had a career-high 19 points in Saturday's win over Toronto (Photo Credit: Alicia Wynter)
Laurier: 91 Toronto: 80
WATERLOO, Ont. (January 22, 2017) – Following what was likely their most disappointing performance of the season in a loss to Waterloo on Wednesday, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s basketball team came out a changed squad on Saturday afternoon.
Tenacious defence, a season-high offensive output, strong character on both ends, it was all there as the Hawks went wire-to-wire in an impressive 91-80 win over a strong Toronto Varsity Blues squad at the Athletic Complex in Waterloo.
Laurier grabbed the initiative early, rolling out of the gates to a 10-0 lead early and an 18-12 lead after one.
Markham’s Tevaun Kokko
took charge early in this one on both ends. He was flirting with a triple-double going into the half with 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. In what was probably his most well-rounded performance of the year, he tied a career-high with 29 points while setting another with 10 boards to finish with a double-double.
Kokko contributed to what was some excellent team defence in the first quarter, holding the OUA’s fifth-ranked offence to just 12 points.
With the Blues (8-5) pushing back in the second quarter, the Hawks (7-8) needed some additional scoring from names other than Kokko.
Kitchener’s Vlad Matovic
provided exactly what the purple and gold needed. He was consistently dominating in the post, beating Toronto defenders with a number of different post moves. He also tied his career high with 19 points in this one.
Kokko and Matovic have been the Hawks’ most consistent performers this year, but the Hawks were so much more than just those two on Saturday. Head Coach JUSTIN SERRESSE
made some significant changes to his rotation against Toronto, rolling with a tight eight-man unit while giving extra run to rookie Matt Minutillo
(Brantford, Ont.) and guards Sydney Davis
(Mississauga, Ont.) and Joseph Fo
He was aptly rewarded Saturday, with the Hawks showing the most team chemistry they have all season on both ends of the floor. Laurier had an impressive 17 assists on 30 made field goals.
While they did not put up the flashy high numbers, the contributions of Minutillo, Davis, and Fo were obvious in this one. Minutillo had one specific game-changing sequence where he took charges on back-to-back Blues’ possessions, firing up his teammates in the process.
Hanging on to their lead by a thread going into the fourth, the Hawks had to snatch the momentum back, and they did just that.
A streak of solid defence was capped by a massive fast break slam by Matovic, sending the Laurier bench into a frenzy and the Blues to a timeout. That pushed the lead to a seemingly safe 78-66 margin late.
But it turned out to not be so safe, as Toronto forward Devin Johnson of Ajax, Ont., went off late, rattling off four three’s in quick succession to put a scare into the home crowd. He had 29 in the second half and a career-high 37 in the game.
Luckily Chuder Teny
(Kitchener, Ont,) stayed cool under some intense heat, calmly making eight straight free-throws late to guide the Hawks safely home to victory.
Laurier continues to sit a game and a half back in the OUA West behind the Windsor Lancers (8-6) but the victory over an opponent with a better record will push them up the RPI standings, which eventually determine playoff seeding.
The Hawks will look to continue their strong form from this game as they look for revenge in their rematch with the Waterloo Warriors (3-10) a week from now, on Saturday, January 28.
Tip goes at 2 p.m. from the Waterloo PAC and the game can be seen live on OUA.tv