Hawks split openers

Men's basketball couldn't put up many points in the fourth quarter against Laurentian. (Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

Men’s basketball couldn’t put up many points in the fourth quarter against Laurentian. (Photo by Ryan Hueglin)

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s basketball team opened their season strong on Friday, blowing away the new team to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference, the Algoma Thunderbirds, 98-53 to grab the win.

However, they faced a much tougher task on Saturday against the Laurentian Voyageurs.

The Hawks managed to hold the lead for three quarters, but just couldn’t close it out, falling 78-71 to the Voyageurs.

Coach Peter Campbell agreed that the contest against the Voyageurs was a much harder task than Algoma.

“This is a good team, this is probably a top ten team … I was pleased that we matched them, I think we matched them effort-wise, I think we matched them intensity-wise. They got more inside then we got inside and that made the difference,” he said.

Off the opening tip, it was the rookie Jack Simmons who got the Golden Hawks off to a quick start with a couple of jumpers and a put back.

He finished with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.

The big shooters for Laurier then started to take over as third-year Will Coulthard and fifth-year Max Allin started to hit their shots, ending with 16 and 25 points respectively.

Simmons stressed the importance of playing with a player like Allin and the impact it has on his own game and the games of his teammates.

“Not only does he put points on the board, but it makes everything easier for everyone else on the floor,” he said.

“So not only is he knocking down threes like crazy but he’s giving us open shots and open looks too so it’s huge when he’s playing like that.”

The outside game was not what was giving the Golden Hawks trouble on Saturday, but more their inside game on both ends of the floor.

On defence, the Hawks could not seem to stop the Voyageurs’ Nelson Yengue, who put up 26 points, most of which were either from the free throw line or in the paint.

The Golden Hawks still managed to enter the fourth up 62-58 following a tough buzzer beater by Max Allin.

However, the Laurier shooters went cold in the fourth, and the team as a whole only managed to put up nine points.

The Voyageurs seized that opportunity and took the lead on another inside bucket by Yengue.

Allin tried to sum up what happened in the last five minutes of the game.

“We just couldn’t get a defensive stop at the end. They got easy ones inside and we never got a bucket. We were sitting at 71 for the last couple of minutes and we just couldn’t get over that hump and it cost us,” he said.

Despite the loss, coach Campbell feels like they have not even come close to reaching their potential this season, and sees a lot of room for growth.

“It’s early in the season. We have to get a lot better as a basketball team. Where we are now is not where we want to be, mid-November is not where we want to be in January so lots of work to do,” he said.

Laurier will now travel to Toronto to take on the Toronto Varsity Blues on Friday and the Ryerson Rams on Saturday.

Tipoff for both games is set for 8 p.m.

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