Facing tough competition

Golden Hawk basketball struggled to keep pace with some high-octane competition on the weekend

Photo by Heather Davidson
Photo by Heather Davidson

he Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks struggled to keep pace with some high-octane competition on the weekend.

As underdogs against the country’s two top teams, Carleton and Ottawa, the Hawks knew a grim challenge lay ahead.

“You know [Carleton]’s averaging 91 points a game … Ottawa’s averaging 104 points a game. Its not like you think, ‘Oh, this will be a piece of cake,’ said coach Peter Campbell. “You know what you’re up against, it’s whether you have the courage to step up and compete at that level.”

In Friday night’s matinee, Laurier struggled to restrain Carleton’s vaunted Scrubb brothers, consisting of fifth-years Thomas and Phillip Scrubb.

Despite a first quarter filled with spirited defence from the Hawks, the first-ranked Ravens took off in the second and decisively put the game out of reach on their way to a 91-50 final.

The Ravens offence was led by Thomas’ 23 points, while his brother Philip chipped in with 12. Laurier’s Owen and Will Coulthard scored 12 points apiece in the loss to the top ranked Ravens.

Carleton’s defence proved impenetrable for most of the night.

In the first half, the Hawks mustered just 15 points and only shot 28 per cent from the field in total.

This, combined with the Ravens’ ability to capitalize on mistakes and create transition offence, meant there were no openings for Laurier to work its way back into the basketball game.

Despite the lopsided score, Campbell felt positives could be drawn from the loss.

“There were some positives, and even in the first quarter, we played pretty good defence. We gave up some transition baskets which we didn’t want to do — and we’ve identified those — and then we gave up second chances,” he said.

“Those were two of the areas we were focusing on defensively and we still did a pretty good job. So there were some good things, but they were way out-weighed by the bad things.”

Saturday night brought a matchup between the Golden Hawks and the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Early on, the home team held their own admirably and hung right with the Gee-Gees until halftime.With the score 45-40, it seemed the Hawks were well within striking distance.However, that was the closest Laurier would get, as Ottawa’s prolific offence took hold of the game in the second half.

The Gee-Gees opened the third quarter on a 12-3 run, and despite captain Will Coulthard’s 16 second-half points, the Golden Hawks  simply could not match the explosive scoring ability of their opponents, falling 113-95 to the number two team in the country.

“I think at halftime they raised the standard. They were going to come out and play harder and we talked about that,” he said. “

We didn’t match that intensity right off the bat, so they were able to gap us a little bit. We missed a couple of easy ones early that would have kept us in it, and then the momentum swung and you’re fighting to catch up.”

“It’s hard to catch up against a team that can score like that.”

The back-to-back losses dropped the Golden Hawks to 3-3 on the season. While the blowout losses were trying for the team, Coulthard felt the team can refocus and find success going forward.

“We know we can play with some of the best teams in the country. We just have to focus for 40 minutes and make sure we play our best ball,” he said.

The recent success of two of the team’s veteran leaders is also a cause for Laurier optimism.

Both Coulthard and third-year forward Aiddian Walters had solid weekends. Coulthard scored in double-digits for the fourth straight game, while Walters added 16 on Saturday and was an energetic defensive leader.

“I found my shot, I’m feeling a little more comfortable out there and the guys have been finding me in position to score,” said Coulthard.

“It’s just about being comfortable out there and playing with confidence.”

Laurier’s next course of action comes on Wednesday night at Waterloo University, when they visit a 1-5 Warriors team that managed just 36 points in their last game against Carleton.

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