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(Credits: Kha Vo)
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MBASK defence blitzed in loss to Laurentian
SUDBURY, Ont. (Saturday, November 4, 2017) – The Laurier Golden Hawks men’s basketball team met their second Top-10 opponent in three games to open the season when they faced off against the No. 10 ranked Laurentian Voyageurs at the Ben F. Avery Gymnasium in Sudbury on Saturday night. Foul troubles in the second quarter put the Hawks (1-2) in a hole that, despite several spirited efforts, could not overcome in the second half, falling by a score of 106-89.

Following a tightly contested first quarter, the purple and gold found themselves quickly with five fouls in the second, allowing the Voyageurs (2-0) the bonus for around five minutes. This had a doubly adverse effect on the Hawks as not only could Laurentian get free points off any foul, the players could not defend as tightly as they would have liked due to fear of being called for the foul.

When asked about the foul trouble in the second quarter, Head Coach Justin Serresse believed it was a case of his team needing to learn to walk the fine line between good, aggressive defence and being called for fouls, something a young team will continue to learn as they gain experience.

Trailing 46-32 at halftime, a big run late in the third and early in the fourth had the Hawks within as many as just five points midway through the fourth. Serresse praised his team’s fighting spirit against a top-ranked opponent and thought they did a lot of positive things on offence. For the second straight night, the purple and gold shot around 50 percent from the field and 43 percent from three, creating a lot of good looks especially in the second half.

Tevaun Kokko (Markham, Ont.) once again led the way for the Hawks, scoring an team-high 27 points while putting in work as a distributor, collecting eight dimes on the evening. Ali Sow (Ottawa, Ont.) had 15, while Vlad Matovic (Kitchener, Ont.) and Matt Minutillo (Brantford, Ont.) each had 12 in a balanced scoring effort.

However, after being able to control Laurentian star Kadre Gray (Toronto, Ont.) in the halfcourt game for most of the first half, the Voyageurs really opened things up in the second half with their pace. Their quick transition game translated to a lot of easy finishes at the rim and other good looks cause by getting the Hawks defence on their heels.

Serresse credited the Voyageurs ability to play at a speed not often seen at the University level, but believes the purple and gold can be much better in their transition D. He described the issues as having a mentality of “I will get my guy, you get your guy, good luck.” He wants to see his players work together to defend as a collective in transition, rotating over to help each other instead of watching a player like Gray burn them in a 1-on-1 in transition.

Gray, particularly excellent in the second half, finished with a triple-double of 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Anthony Iacoe (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) caught fire from three for the Voyageurs to help them pull away late.

The Hawks will need to rebound quickly, as the road ahead does not get any easier. Opening weekend at the Athletic Complex will see No. 9 Ottawa and No. 1 Carleton visit this upcoming Friday and Saturday.
 
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