Saturday afternoon at the Athletic Complex, the nationally sixth-ranked Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s basketball squad hosted the McMaster Marauders in what should have been another routine victory for the Hawks.
Instead, Laurier struggled to match the Marauders intensity and after falling into foul trouble, struggled tremendously on the boards in a 92-82 loss, just their third of the season.
While the Hawks held a lead at half, the teams’ two leading rebounders, Matt Buckley and Pat Donnelly, were forced to play sparingly as they were both had too many fouls.
This changed the course of the game significantly, a fact that even head coach Peter Campbell was quick to acknowledge.
“Based on the way the game was called, it was strange,” said Campbell. “They are cogs in our defense.”
The second half saw the Hawks lose momentum through missed free throws and an inability to stop the McMaster offense.
According to Campbell, the Hawks’ inability to get any sort of secondary scoring also altered the game’s outcome.
“From an offensive perspective, we didn’t move the ball as well as we wanted to move the ball and we didn’t have our best offensive output.”
Despite their struggles, the Hawks limited their deficit to single digits for most of the second half, until they eventually were unable to keep the gap close.
“At the end, our emotions let us down,” said Campbell. “And we weren’t excited and we considered the possibility we were going to lose, which you cannot do.”
The final tallies saw Kale Harrison score a game-high 27 points and Max Allin scored 23, highlighted by 10 in the first quarter.
Despite the devastating loss, Laurier’s place in their division standing is unlikely to change.
However, the most disappointing aspect of the defeat is that the Golden Hawks are now extremely unlikely to catch the first place Lakehead Thunderwolves, a feat that is now out of their control.
“We’ve lost sight of our goal of first-place,” commented Campbell. “You’re going to play bad games, but after two more weeks you can’t afford to,” alluding to the fact that the playoffs begin at month’s end.
The Hawks’ record now stands at 15-3, with only four regular season games remaining before the playoffs begin.
The team’s schedule features two tough remaining games, one against the Windsor Lancers and the season finale against McMaster.
Coach Campbell is looking for his team to show some character in the regular season’s remaining games in preparation for the playoffs.
“We need to re-focus, and get it going. We played one bad game and if we can get it going again we can pick it up.”