THUNDER BAY, ON- Lakehead’s defenses were shredded in the first half, but managed to regain some composure in the second half, as they came back from down 23 in the third quarter to win 90-84.
Lakehead seemed lackadaisical in the early goings, playing a 2-3 zone that Laurier annihilated in the first half, shooting 10-15 from 3. The one bright spot for LU in the first half was Yoosrie Salhia (Toronto, ON), who was 5-5 from the field with 11 points. The score at half-time was 56-35 Laurier. The second half started out with Lakehead much more focused and energetic, led by Venzal Russell (Detroit, MI), who nailed 2 three’s in the first 3 minutes of the 3rd quarter. Laurier answered back, with Patrick Donnelly hitting a 3 of his own over Salhia.
The turning point of the game could have been when LU coach Scott Morrison was assessed a technical foul, after which Laurier sharp shooter Kale Harrison clanked the ensuing pair of free throws, and LU followed that with a defensive stop. LU won the third quarter 20-16 despite a Laurier 3 at the buzzer.
The fourth quarter was all LU, and in particular Jamie Searle (Belleville, ON) and Ryan Thomson (Oakville, ON), who hit 2 three’s each in the quarter. But LU’s offense was complimented by an oppressive defense, led by Greg Carter (Ottawa, ON), who on seemingly every possession forced Laurier guard Max Allin to turn several times in the back court before initiating a Laurier offense that was out of sorts for most of the 4th quarter. Venzal Russell also picked the pocket of a Laurier guard for an easy lay-up as LU mounted the comeback. LU out-scored Laurier in the 4th quarter 35-12.
All Lakehead starters scored in double figures, led by Searle with 23, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals, followed by Venzal Russell with 20 points, 7 assists and 5 steals. Laurier was led by Max Allin with 21 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds, followed by rookie Patrick Donnelly with 12 points and 2 assists. The two teams shot identical percentages from the field (43%), from 3 (60%) and the free throw line (65%).
Laurier coach Peter Campbell was impressed with how the ‘Wolves competed in the second half, “It was basically a reversal in game play from Friday to Saturday. Friday, Lakehead controlled the first half, and then we came on in the second half to win. Tonight, we were even more in control after the first half, but they competed harder than our guys in the second.”
Scott Morrison was thankful for the win, but wants his players to learn from this game moving forward. “I was proud of the guys’ comeback for obvious reasons. We fell short of winning the split [due to point differential between Friday and Saturday’s games] but came away with an important victory. Two things we can learn from this game: 1. Not to let an opponent’s tough shots or big plays kill our momentum and confidence, and 2. That this is a level of play we are capable of every night if we can get ourselves in the right mind-set.”