First half struggles sink MBASK in OUA Quarter-finals
Golden Hawks score just 14 points in the opening half as they lose 91-73 to the No. 3 Brock Badgers

Monday, February 26, 2018 - Posted by Jamie Howieson

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. (February 26, 2018) - The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s basketball team had their season come to an end on Saturday night as they lost 91-73 to the No. 3 Brock Badgers in the OUA Quarter-finals at the Bob Davis Gymnasium.

The Hawks, who were playing in the quarter-finals for the first time in three years, were done in by a very tough first half as Brock opened the game on a 13-0 run and eventually took a 53-14 lead at the half which proved to be insurmountable for the purple and gold. 

“Our guys struggled being in that position for the first time,” said head coach Justin Serresse on his young team. “The first couple of minutes we had the chance to score a few easy buckets and we missed. Definitely felt the nerves rise after that. They got some easy buckets and made some shots early that were pretty tough and they’re confidence went up. So I thought it was just a confidence thing. Things snowballed on us and went from bad to worse.”

Brock’s veteran starting lineup, which featured four players with at least three years playing experience in the OUA, compared to the Hawks’ starters, which didn’t have a player who had more than two years playing experience in the conference, overwhelmed the purple and gold from the opening tip.

Led by Cassidy Ryan of Mississauga, Ont., and Johneil Simpson of Toronto, the Badgers took advantage of a boisterous home crowd as they were efficient on the offensive side of the ball and suffocating on the defensive side of the ball to take a 39-point lead at halftime.

Ryan and Simpson combined to score 29 points in the opening half as Brock shot 60 percent from the floor while the Hawks were held to just three field goals in the first 20 minutes, shooting 11 percent from the field.

“They did a good job of taking the ball out of [Tevaun] Kokko and Ali’s [Sow] hands in the first half,” said Serresse on his team’s struggles. “The two of them weren’t able to figure out what we wanted to expose. We were trying to exploit some matchups but they didn’t even look at them. We didn’t do one thing in the first half that we did all week in practice and we didn’t exploit in transition in the first half which we needed to do if we were going to win.”

Despite a disappointing first half, the Hawks bounced back in the second half and demonstrated the potential that exists with this team moving forward. Laurier outscored the Badgers 59-38 and forced Brock into 21 turnovers, the majority of which came from the home team’s starting five.

Sow, a native of Ottawa, along with Kemel Archer of Brampton, Ont., and Ntore Habimana of Mississauga, Ont., led the Hawks offensively over the final 20 minutes of play. Sow poured in 16 of his team-high 19 points while Archer scored 10 and Habimana added nine.

“We exposed the number three team in the country,” said Serresse of his team’s strong second half. “We turned them over 30 times over the course of the game. We exposed them in the press. The whole year they struggled against the press and we did some stuff that will really bug them [moving forward] and I’m glad we did that in the second half.”

With the loss to Brock, the Hawks’ season comes to an end at the hands of the Badgers for the second time in three years. However, with just one graduating players, Laurier has demonstrated throughout the season that they have plenty to build on as they begin to look ahead to the 2018-19 campaign.

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