Things got ugly early in the game, as Lakehead went to the foul line 11 times in the first ten minutes, connecting on only 4. Despite their shooting woes, they still led 21-9 after the first Q. Early in the second quarter, however, head coach Scott Morrison objected to some of the officiating, at which point he was ejected from the game.
Without the Thunderwolves’ admiral commanding his fleet, much of what defines Lakehead as a team would be thrown overboard. Game play deteriorated, energy lacked, and the Winnipeg Wesmen took advantage of their superior group of athletes against a Lakehead defence that was desperately trying to find its rhythm. In the 2nd and 3rd quarters, Winnipeg out-scored LU 28-21 and 23-19, leaving many in the stands to wonder if they would indeed see the first Lakehead defeat this early in the year, and on home court no less.
When they were against the ropes and desperate for an answer, Ryan Thomson did connect on some clutch shots, going 10-17 from the floor (3-5 from 3pt) and 4-5 from the stripe for 27 points in 32 minutes. Rookie Joe Hart poured in 15 points while Yoosrie Salhia and Joe Jones cleaned the glass, grabbing 8 and 7 rebounds, respectively. Matt Schmidt (Thunder Bay) played an efficient game, going 6 of 8 from the field for 13 points, 5 rebounds and a blocked shot in 16 minutes of play.
Winnipeg’s Jordan Clennan led the Wesmen with 19 points and 5 rebounds, while sharp shooter Travis Krahn hit three 3-pointers en route to 17 points. Mark McNee was large in the paint, going 3-3 from the floor, grabbing 7 rebounds and blocking 4 shots.
Assistant coach Matt Erdman, who served as head coach for the final 26 minutes of game, mentioned post-game, “The guys didn’t have the energy we usually have. With our veterans, we should have more energy when we encounter that type of adversity. Tonight was a whole different ball game. We were lucky we had Thomson, and Yoos and Schmidt step up.” Erdman continued, “Credit to Winnipeg for making us play their style of basketball. They played tough and got us out of our comfort zone.”
The two teams will rematch tomorrow evening at 7pm in the Thunderdome.