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Ben Stevens had the best game of his young career for Laurier on Friday night (Credit: Eva Ou)
Ben Stevens had the best game of his young career for Laurier on Friday night (Credit: Eva Ou)
MBASK lockdown late to defeat the Lions
Laurier: 87 YORK: 75

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WATERLOO, Ont. (November 18, 2017) – The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s basketball team jumped out to an early lead and stayed composed through a late comeback attempt to defeat the York Lions 87-75 in an entertaining affair Friday night at the Athletic Complex in Waterloo.

Coming off strong showings against some of Canada’s top-ranked teams, the Hawks (3-3) came out of the gates confidently, building up an 18-7 lead, a margin that would be trimmed slightly to 24-16 after the first quarter.

The purple and gold continued to be the front-runners, pestering the Lions with aggressive, in-your-face defence. The Hawks held York to a lowly 33 percent shooting on the night while holding a 47-38 edge on the glass.

Although the Hawks sustained the lead throughout the first half, Head Coach Justin Serresse lamented the fact that they were unable to stretch the lead when they had the opportunity.

By not being able to extend that lead, Serresse commented “we gave them life, they were getting to the paint, gaining momentum".

Using that added momentum, the Lions made their run late in the third and early in the fourth to get to within two. Desperately needing a big shot, Matt Minutillo (Brantford, Ont.) knocked down a huge three-pointer to restore some level of calm for the Hawks.

Serresse admitted that while “the team is still learning how to win and close out games”, he was impressed with his team’s ability to get stops late. A stretch of four or five stops in a row on the defensive end allowed the purple and gold to pull away late as the Lions were forced into a scenario where they had to start fouling and putting Laurier on the line.

First-year big man Ben Stevens (Halifax, N.S.) had his best performance as a Golden Hawk Friday night, leading the team with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Serresse had challenged Stevens to be a difference-maker on the defensive end by using his length around the basket to change shots and grab rebounds above the rim. Serresse said that “he needs to get rebounds to get him energized,” and that translated to getting involved on offence as well.

Tevaun Kokko (Markham, Ont.) and Minutillo each had 14 for the purple and gold.

Josiah Riley (Brampton, Ont.) led the Lions with a game-high 19 points in a losing effort.

The Hawks play their second game of a back-to-back Saturday night when they host the Queen’s Gaels (3-2) at the Athletic Complex. Losers Friday night at Waterloo, the Gaels should be motivated coming in, which will make for an intense matchup.

Tip is set for 8:00 p.m.
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