THUNDER BAY – Sports – The Lakehead University men came within a shot of pushing the game into overtime, but instead it was the Ravens who knocked down a plethora of clutch jumpers in the 4th quarter to seal their 88-85 victory over the Thunderwolves.
In what was the most hotly anticipated game of the first half of the season for the T-Wolves, they did not disappoint the 1,100+ fans that packed the Thunderdome on Saturday evening. The lead never swung more than 5 points for the majority of the game, as Lakehead got big-time contributions from Ben Johnson (23 points and 3 steals, 8-14 shooting), Joe Jones (18 points, 5 rebounds) and Venzal Russell (15 points, 4 rebounds).
The Pack went into halftime with a 36-32 lead. As the game progressed and legs started to tire, both teams would continue to slug away at one another, with the final quarter being the highest-scoring of the game (30-26 Carleton).
Remarked Carleton coach Dave Smart following the game, “This is a great playing atmosphere, it doesn’t any better than this, in terms of road-game venues.” About the Thunderwolf team he adds, “They just keep on coming back at you hard all game, that sets them apart from other teams.”
The fourth quarter could not have been closer, as Carleton stretched their lead to 7 with under 5 minutes to play, thanks to three pointers from Willy Manigat and Tyson Hinz. Lakehead stormed back, as Joseph Jones and Venzal Russell aggressively attacked the hoop at every opportunity, and Jones made his free throws count (8-of-9 FT). In the final 24 seconds and LU down by 3, Lakehead fouled Phillip Scrubb, who clanked both free throws amidst the deafening chaos of the Thunderdome. Lakehead closed the gap to one on a Russell lay up with 10 seconds remaining. Carleton 5th year guard Willy Manigat was fouled and knocked down both. shots to restore the three point lead that they would cling to, despite Lakehead having two desperate last-second attempts to tie the game falter off target.
Carleton had 5 players reach double digits, with Phillip Scrubb scoring 17, Hinz 15, Kyle Smendziuk 15, Manigat 14 and Kevin Churchill 11. Carleton shot 53% (32-61) from the floor compared to Lakehead’s 39% (28-71). Lakehead made up for their shooting by controlling the glass, out-rebounding the Ravens 28-19.
Coach Scott Morrison acknowledged after the game, “I believe that while we did not reach our ultimate goal tonight of defeating Carleton, we can walk away from this weekend with our head’s high and with an increased motivation to continue pushing to improve our level of play in time for the OUA West schedule.”
Speaking to the technical side of things he adds, “I thought some sloppy weak side help as well as 2 or 3 defensive gambles in the 4th quarter may have cost us the game. Like the champions they are, Carleton made us pay by connecting on clutch shots and making us pay for every mistake down the stretch. That being said I was proud of how we controlled the glass and kept fighting until the final buzzer. We have a long way to go to contend in March but anyone who saw tonight’s game must believe that we have the potential to do just that.
Moving forward Morrison concludes, “Time now to get focused on York and Laurentian and to try and finish off a solid first semester with two road Ws”
The men play York and Laurentian on the road next weekend.