Laurier's Vlad Matovic battles for the ball in the Hawks' Seniors Day win over Guelph (Credit: Eva Ou)
Laurier: 75 GUELPH: 61
WATERLOO, Ont. (February 12, 2018) - The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men's basketball team put an end to their three-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon as they jumped on the Guelph Gryphons early and rolled to a 75-61 victory on Seniors Day to clinch home court advantage in the first round of the OUA playoffs.
While the victory may have been important in the standings, the afternoon was about recognizing the Hawks lone graduating player, Kitchener’s Vlad Matovic
The big man has had a very successful five-year tenure at Laurier, earning Academic All-Canadian honours three times while serving as a key presence for the purple and gold in the middle.
Asked post-game about Matovic’s impact both on and off the court, Hawks Head Coach Justin Serresse
beamed with pride.
“One of the most unselfish players I have coached, one of the smartest people I have known, and more importantly a stand-up guy, ten out of ten,” he said, “I am proud of him as a person, a basketball player, and a student.”
It was a perfect storm on Sunday for Matovic, able to return for Sunday’s contest after an 11-game absence due to injury.
He got the start and finished with five points and six rebounds.
It was clear that his teammates were ready and willing to put in the work to get him a win, putting questions of their defence from the previous two games to rest early, holding the Gryphons (5-17) without a point for over five minutes to begin the game.
Thrown completely out of sync by the Hawks (10-12) intensity, Guelph could hardly string two passes together in the early going, turning the ball over 13 times in the first half alone.
The purple and gold were able to punish the visitors for their lack of execution, running out to 39-22 halftime lead, capped by a dagger three from Tevaun Kokko
(Markham, Ont.) at the horn, right in his defender’s face.
“I was very happy with the way we came out of the gates,” said Serresse, “It was the team I was hoping to see the last two games.”
Pushing the lead to as many as 25 points in the second half, the Hawks were never truly challenged despite a strong fourth quarter from the Gryphons.Ali Sow
(Ottawa, Ont.) saw his strong form continue following Laurier Male Athlete of the Week honours, scoring a game-high 20 in the win. Kokko was right behind at 19, while Ntore Habimana
(Mississauga, Ont.) knocked down two deep three-pointers from distance, finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds.
With at least fourth place in the OUA West standings clinched, the Hawks can only move up to third when they play the Lakehead Thunderwolves (2-20) in their final two games of the regular season next weekend in Thunder Bay. With the Windsor Lancers sitting one game ahead of Laurier with a mark of 11-11, the purple and gold will need to win both and hope for some favourable results elsewhere to slide up a position.
Stay tuned to laurierathletics.com for continued coverage as the Hawks inch closer to postseason play.