Basketball Hawks stumble but defeat Mustangs

On Saturday afternoon at the Wilfrid Laurier Athletic Complex, the men’s basketball Golden Hawks took on the scrappy Western Mustangs in what should have been another routine win for the first-place Hawks.

But once the game began, it was clear the Mustangs were a proud unit and were not going to just let the Hawks dominate them as once expected.

Laurier’s starting five were able to contribute offensively in a big way, with every starter finishing in double digits highlighted by Max Allin’s team-high 23 points.

Will Coulthard put up 14 points and Kale Harrison notched 13 points while Matt Buckley had ten and Kyle Enright had an uncharacteristic night where his shots weren’t dropping.

However, it was the toughness and early contributions of second-year starter Pat Donnelly that propelled the Hawks to victory.

Donnelly finished the game with 21 points, but his 14 in the first quarter gave the Hawks an early lead that they would never surrender, despite a valiant effort by Western.

The game was highlighted by its roughness and physical nature, with three Hawks fouling out.

Most noticeably team all-star Harrison fouled out with five minutes remaining and was quickly followed by fellow fifth-year Matt Buckley who was forced to join him on the bench.

As head coach Peter Campbell sees it, the relentless effort of the Mustangs contributed to the Hawks foul trouble.

“Western kept playing and coming after us and we tightened up a little bit,” said Campbell. “Things weren’t going our way and we got caught up in that, and stopped playing our game.”

Factoring into keeping the game close, Ryan Barbeau scored a game-high 28 for the Western Mustangs, contributing to the Mustangs outscoring the Hawks 27-18 in the fourth quarter, but still falling short by a score of 89-73.

The Laurier bench had difficulties contributing all afternoon, which not only allowed the Mustangs to claw back but also forces the Golden Hawk starters to play more than planned, especially considering the big game coming up Wednesday against the Windsor Lancers. The Lancers sit with a record of 11-5.

“The success we have had all year is because we have guys coming off the bench and doing good things, and you don’t typically see this unit struggle,” said Campbell.

“Hopefully come Wednesday in Windsor the bench is firing because we are going to need everyone.”

The story of the game was that the Hawks won in an adverse situation, despite how unattractive the victory may have been.

It was one of the few instances in this fantastic season where the Hawks truly had to face adversity, and they handled the situation well.

“Bottom line is when it was on the line, we pulled it out. We didn’t fold, which is big,” said Campbell.

The Hawks are now 14-2 and are tied with the Lakehead Thunderwolves for first in the West division.

The Hawks face the Windsor Lancers Wednesday night in Windsor, followed by a home game against McMaster Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Athletic Complex.

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