HAMILTON, ON – Updated with Video – The Lakehead Thunderwolves’ date with destiny at the CIS Final 8 in Halifax got a whole lot more fuel put in the tank, thanks to a 77-62 victory over the # 1 ranked Carleton Ravens, as they captured the Wilson Cup for the first time in team history, and handed Carleton their first loss of the season.
Playing determined, and increasingly confident basketball, the Thunderwolves increasingly dominated the previously undefeated Carlton University squad.
The first quarter featured a slow start by both teams, with Lakehead’s saving grace coming, as usual, from behind the arc. Jamie Searle capped off the 1st frame with a buzzer beating 3, while Joseph Jones and Ben Johnson dialed in from long distance as well, as the Thunderwolves held a one point advantage, 15-14 lead after 1 quarter.
Video from The Score!
The second quarter saw the intensity rise in both clubs, and physically so under the basket, where Jamie Searle took an elbow to the face from Cole Hobin. Hobin was assessed a flagrant foul on the play, and Searle knocked down the free throws. The grinding defensive play continued for both teams and stayed very physical, bodies flying and flexing for any loose ball or rebound. Halftime score was 32-26 for the Thunderwolves.
The third quarter continued to favor the Thunderwolves, although just barely, thanks to a Joseph Jones buzzer beating heave from half-court, that had to go to video re-play, compliments of our friends at The Score, and the Lakehead faithful chanting ‘replay’ . The replay showed Jones releasing the ball with 0.1 seconds on the clock. Following some conferencing between referees and coaches, the points were added on the scoreboard, to an ovation of Thunderwolf fans. Third quarter point totals were Lakehead 14, Carleton 13.
The tension in the fourth mounted by the second, although it seemed to get to the Carleton players, who seemed not to be enjoying themselves, compared to the Thunderwolves who were all smiles during and after every play. And they had plenty to smile about, as the Ravens fabric that once stood as the #1 team in the nation (and still does, technically) was coming apart at the seams. The final coup-de-gras came from a Jones 3-pointer that stretched the Lakehead advantage to 15 points with under 2 minutes remaining. From there on, Lakehead made their free throws and took care of the ball.
Searle, fully embodying his “little red engine that could” moniker, kept the Thunderwolf train on the track for forty minutes, finishing with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. jones finished with 15 points, Ryan Thompson had 12, and Yoosrie Salhia scored 10 and grabbed 9 rebounds.
Carleton had two players in double digits, OUA East Player of the Year Tyson Hinz (19 points) and Cole Hobin with 10.
In terms of team totals, Carleton out-rebounded Lakehead 35-32, although LU held the advantage on the offensive glass, 10-7.
Scott Morrison, who held a firm expression all game, let out a victory cry with 17 seconds remaining. After the game Morrison spoke of the plan leading up to this game,
“I wanted our guys to go out there and not be intimidated by Carleton, that their human just like us. We got up by ten [in the fourth quarter] and we just kept hitting shots. I told the team that this was our time.”
The victory will no doubt play favourably into the Final 8 seeding that Lakehead will receive news of tomorrow. After the seeds are announced, it will decide who Lakehead will play in the first round in Halifax. The were ranked # 6 in the nation prior to the Wilson Cup Final Four.