Marauders overmatched by rolling MBASK
Winners of three games in a row, the Hawks are brimming with confidence and it showed Saturday
Sunday, January 14, 2018 - Posted by Mac Turchan
HAMILTON (January 14, 2018) – Looking to run their win-streak to three on Saturday afternoon at the Burridge Gymnasium in Hamilton, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men's basketball team managed just that, overwhelming the McMaster Marauders with their pace on route to a convincing 79-64 victory.
Following a sluggish start to 2018, just a week and a half later, things are looking much brighter for the purple and gold. With Head Coach Justin Serresse urging the group to get back to their high-octane brand of basketball, the Hawks have responded in spades, demonstrating a strong defensive effort while playing efficiently on the offensive end of the floor.
Holding their opponent under 70 points for the second straight game, Serresse credits an increased commitment to getting stops on the defensive end as well as a team-first mentality as the primary reasons for the Hawks’ (6-8) turnaround.
The coach commented post-game that “Everyone is playing for each other. They know that, if they ever need help, the next guy has their back.”
Often going unseen is the impact that the work put in on the defensive end has on offence. This has been a major factor for the purple and gold. More stops have allowed the Hawks to impose their pace getting out in transition.
This was clear to see on Saturday as Laurier constantly had the Marauders (2-12) back on their heels and out of position. A staggering 28 fast-break points in the first half alone were key to the Hawks breaking open a sizable 51-33 lead at halftime.
Coming out of the half, McMaster proved they still had some life in them, cutting down the margin to 11 at several different points. David McCulloch (Hamilton) was an important figure for the Marauders, playing all but one minute and accounting for nearly half of his team’s points, going for 27 on the night.
Holding Mac at bay was some timely three-point shooting from the Hawks, especially from rookie guard Ali Sow (Ottawa), who showcased a range that went far beyond the arc in knocking down five of his eight triples on the afternoon, finishing with a career-high 24 points off the bench.
Tevaun Kokko (Markham, Ont.) had 17, while Ntore Habimana (Mississauga, Ont.) had eight boards and five assists in the victory.
The purple and gold have been on fire from deep during their past three, shooting a combined 43.6 percent over that span, which has moved them to number one in the OUA in three-point percentage at 36.3 percent, just ahead of none other than U SPORTS No. 1 Carleton.
Serresse believes the marked improvement stems from a combination of better pace, ball movement, and confidence from seeing a lot of their good looks find the hole.
Despite scoring only 10 points in the third, the defence and three-point shooting proved enough to put away the Marauders, whom ultimately lacked the firepower beyond McCulloch to mount a full comeback.
Now locked in a three-way tie for third in the OUA West, the Hawks have an opportunity ahead as they welcome in an Algoma Thunderbirds team that has lost five in a row for a pair next weekend. These games, scheduled for Friday, January 19 and Saturday, January 20, are currently shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty following the recent flooding of the Hawks’ home court at the Athletic Complex.
Asked what issues this disturbance might bring to his team, Serresse looked at the situation as a challenge his team will have to overcome, adversity that his players can grow from.
He joked “It doesn’t matter where we play. We will play on the soccer field, in the parking lot, in the snow!”
Another wrinkle in what has been a season of ebs and flows, it will be interesting to see what happens next.
Stay tuned to laurierathletics.com for updates on the status of the games against Algoma.
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