Basketball Hawks have lost two of three

In the final home game of the regular season the Wilfrid Laurier men’s basketball team suffered a setback against Windsor. The visiting Lancers made the Athletic Complex look like their home defeating the Hawks 77-69 Saturday afternoon.

“Windsor lost to Waterloo on Wednesday, which they weren’t expecting to do, so we knew they would come out fired up a little bit. We had talked about how we had to match that intensity to start with and we didn’t do it. We sure didn’t do it,” said head coach Peter Campbell following the loss.

Following a 100-69 drubbing of Guelph on Wednesday night, the Hawks came out completely flat in the first quarter.

Laurier missed a number of shots, many of which came within a foot of the net. An up-tempo Windsor squad jumped out to a 25-15 lead in the quarter highlighted by a beautiful alley-hoop to Rotimi Osuntola Jr.

In the second quarter, Laurier would tighten up defensively, forcing seven turnovers in the quarter.

A few deep threes by Kale Harrison and Kyle Enright would give the Hawks their first lead of the game at 33-31. It was a lead they could not hold though, and after surrendering a buzzer beating three pointer, they trailed at the half 41-36.

In the third quarter, Windsor would continue to pull away led by the efforts of centre Lien Phillip. The Ontario University Athletics’ (OUA) leading rebounder played the entire game and finished with 20 points and 15 boards.

Trailing by 15 heading into the fourth, the Hawks managed to stage a late surge that saw them pull within four points.

But the final minutes epitomized the afternoon for Laurier as they missed their final five shots of the game. Laurier finished the day shooting 33 per cent from the field and 23 per cent from beyond the arc.

“We had some good open looks for some of our best shooters and they didn’t knock them down,” said Campbell.

Kale Harrison once again led the scoring effort for Laurier with 21 points. He now sits four points shy of being the OUA’s third all-time leading scorer.

Conor Meschino also hit double figures for the Hawks adding 17 points, while Matthew Buckley led the team with 10 rebounds.

Campbell acknowledged that the absence of big man Patrick Donnelly from the lineup hurt Laurier, specifically in the rebounding department. Campbell did however tip his hat to the efforts of Windsor’s Phillips.

“We need everyone we can if we are going to out-rebound him. He’s a legitimate beast and he is going to have a pro career somewhere,” said the coach.

After battling back from two deficits in the game, the Hawks could not close out strong and the players recognized that their efforts need to improve heading down the stretch.

“We are not playing confidently, we are digging holes,” added Buckley. “And it takes so much energy to get out of a hole, that when you dig another one you might not have the energy at the end of the game.”

Before the game, Laurier had a ceremony honouring its five graduating players. Fifth years Buckley, Harrison, Meschino and Matt Donnelly as well as fourth year Sharif Wanas will be moving on next year.

Coach Campbell commented on how he has enjoyed his experience coaching these players.

“They come to practice every day, they are great team guys, they are good with our freshman and helping them be comfortable in university. They are terrific at being good team leaders, they are terrific at playing basketball, and they have fun playing. So it’s been pretty special coaching them for the last five years.”

There would be no better way to finish their time at Laurier then with a championship, but the team will need to improve quickly in order to make that a reality.

With this weekend’s loss, Laurier’s record falls to 16-4. The Hawks now nurse a one game lead on the McMaster Marauders. The two teams will meet next Saturday in Hamilton in a game that will likely decide who gets the number two seed in the OUA West.

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