Hawks defeat Marauders and host the OUA semi finals for first time in 43 years

With their first-round bye done and over with, time had come for the Laurier men’s basketball team to take care of their home court against a familiar face: the McMaster Marauders. 

Having played each other in last year’s wild card and getting blown out, and this year splitting the season series, the Marauders were looking to end Laurier’s historic season. That did not turn out to be the case as the Hawks pulled out a 95-89 win to advance. 

Despite the tight score, McMaster managed to take a vice grip from a momentum perspective in the first quarter playing tight defence and taking the air and flow out of Laurier’s offence. This went on to continue in the second quarter as the veteran Marauders squad got after it.

“That’s what they do, they’re trying to get the flow out of the game. We did practice that the whole week, trying to take away Ali [Sow]as much as possible and trying to get him back into the rhythm. I thought Ali did a great job not forcing anything. A lot of times, he was okay being away from the ball and let other guys create and get their confidence up in terms of being able to make plays,” coach Serresse said. 

This was until the last two minutes of the second quarter where Laurier took over with a 7-0 run to take the air out of the Marauders team and go into halftime up 45-36 behind Kemel Archer’s 18 points and five rebounds.

The Hawks are now the number 8 team in Canada following this massive victory. Next up will be the number 3 ranked Ryerson Rams who will be coming to the Athletic Complex on Feb. 27

“So I thought the defence got us going and then we got some transition, we got stuff going on and that’s what really made the difference, is keeping that eight, nine, 10-point game and we kept that gap throughout the whole game. That gap at the end of the second quarter was huge for us to get the major stops and a few stops in a row,” coach Serresse said.

In the third quarter, the Marauders came alive as their level of intensity rose and they started to press Laurier, chipping into their once 13-point lead, at one point, even cutting it to four. The Hawks still managed to hold onto their lead though behind some big momentum plays such as Ali Sow’s big dunk, keeping the energy in the Athletic Complex sky high. 

The fourth quarter was an offensive clinic for both sides as they combined for almost 60 points. It started out with Laurier taking their five-point lead and making it 11, early on. As the Marauders had done in the third though, every time the lead increased, they got to chipping at it. This was the trend of the fourth. Unfortunately for McMaster, Ali Sow reached his peak in the second half.

Behind a strong defence making big plays when it mattered most, Ali Sow’s 25 second half points (36 total) and Ntore Habimana’s 12 second half points (22 total), Laurier went on to win and advance. Ali Sow, in what was another historic performance, tied the Laurier single-season record for points in a playoff game with his 36 points. 

“Him being away from the ball and not being so ball dominant, allowed him to play good defence for 40 minutes, allowed him to also be clutch down the stretch and when we needed big buckets, and when we needed big free throws and attacking the rim, it was fresh, he was making the right decisions so I was happy with that for sure,” stated coach Serresse.

The Hawks are now the number 8 team in Canada following this massive victory. Next up will be the number 3 ranked Ryerson Rams who will be coming to the Athletic Complex on Feb. 27, to play in Wilson Cup semifinals to see who goes on to the title game. The Hawks will be looking for revenge on the Rams as Ryerson demolished Laurier on Nov. 10 by a score of 97-52. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at the Athletic Complex. 

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