THUNDER BAY – The Lakehead University Thunderwolves won the Bronze Medal at the OUA finals. The men’s basketball team were not to be denied on Saturday, winning 78-64 against the Windsor Lancers.
Lakehead University Thunderwolves take the bronze
With the win they are awarded the OUA Bronze medal and a berth at the CIS Final 8 tournament in Ottawa next weekend.
Lakehead got out to a good start, thanks to a Ben Johnson triple that answered two opening baskets by the Lancers. It would be a consistent hot touch from behind the arc that kept Lakehead in the game early (5-8 3FG in 1st half), which made up for a slew of first half turnovers (13). The T-Wolves held a 19-12 advantage after 10 minutes, with Windsor responding in the 2nd quarter to trim the Lakehead lead by 2 points, making it 34-29 at halftime.
Joseph Jones buoyed the ‘Wolves hopes in the first, scoring 13 pts with 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 12 minutes of play. Jones would finish with 23 points (8-15 shooting), 4 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 assists and 1 T/O in 27 minutes of play. For his exceptional efforts he was named the Porter Player of the Game. (Jones pictured below working against a Lancer – photo credit: James MacDonald)
In the second half Lakehead’s offence would pick up its pace, and take much better care of the basketball (only 4 T/O’s in 2nd half). After out-scoring the Lancers 23-17 in the 3rd Q, Lakehead would hold an 11 point advantage that was never seriously threatened, despite the best efforts of OUA West Player of the Year Lien Phillip. Phillip finished 4-14 from the field (6-6 FT) for 15 points and 13 rebounds in 38 minutes to lead the Lancers.
Late in the third the Lancers ran an isolation 1-on-1 play for Phillip at the top of the key with Lakehead captain Yoosrie Salhia guarding him. It would be the defining defensive stand for Lakehead, as Yoosrie stuck to the rangy 6’8″ Windsor center and sent his turn-around jumper aside with one swat of his hand, and hauled down the rebound. Add to that Salhia dribbling the ball from the baseline over the timeline, a sequence of plays that were possibly a career first.
Lakehead stretched the lead to 70-50 with 6:37 remaining in the game and would cruise from there.
After Jones, top T-Wolf scorer was Dwayne Harvey with 14 pts (5-8 shooting), 4 rebounds and 4 assists in 33 minutes. Ben Johnson put up 11 points (3-7 3FG) with 5 rebounds. Leading Lakehead above the opposing trees was Matt Schmidt, grabbing a team-high 8 rebounds with 4 pts. Joe Hart (Southend, UK) put up 9 points (3-5 FG, 2-3 FT).
Following Phillip, Rotimi Osuntola Jr. scored 13 pts, and Ismar Seferagic had 10 pts in the loss.
Windsor shot 22-69 (32%) from the field, compared to Lakehead’s 29-56 (52%). Windsor kept their hopes alive with offensive rebounding, grabbing 15 on the game. Both teams shot poorly from the free throw line (Lakehead 57%, Windsor 60%).
Coach Scott Morrison stated, “I was extremely proud of our basketball team today. After yesterday’s poor showing the guys had a lot of reasons to be down. However our true strengths as a team shone through today in the form of a big heart, excellent teamwork and the confidence that should come from winning as many big games as this group has won over the years. Add one more to that list.”
Stay tuned for CIS Final 8 seeding information, to be determined early Sunday evening. Following that Lakehead’s schedule will be set for the weekend, with their first game sometime Friday, March 8th at Scotia Bank Place in Kanata, Ont.