Laurier men’s basketball team goes down in “frustrating” 85-52 loss

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After an impressive first week comprised of two dominant victories against Toronto and Windsor, culminating with their highest national ranking in over six years, the Golden Hawks’ men’s basketball team was feeling good heading into a tough battle this past weekend.

The Golden Hawks travelled to Ottawa to continue their season-long five-game road trip, as they faced two of the top three ranked teams in the country.

Laurier suffered their first two losses of the season in the nation’s capital on a trip that Coach Serresse explained as “frustrating.”

The Hawks dropped the first game of their season in a close 80-72 loss on Friday night against the Ottawa Gee-Gees and struggled offensively on Saturday night, losing by a 33 point margin to the top-ranked Carleton Ravens.

On Friday night, the Golden Hawks got off to a slow start. Ineffective shooting and turnovers held Laurier scoreless through the first five minutes of the game.

Although the offense was struggling, the defense played strong in the first quarter and the Gee-Gees held a 15-6 lead.

“Turnovers have been a big issue, we are focusing on getting better and not turning the ball over,” Coach Justin Serresse stated after the game.

Ali Sow took over in the second quarter as Laurier stormed out of the break, and were able to tie the game up midway through the quarter.

The Gee-Gees kept hitting their shots and held on to a five-point lead heading into halftime.

As the teams went back and forth in the third quarter, third-year guard Calvin Epistola played key for Ottawa and was part of a great stretch to end the quarter, which gave Ottawa a nine-point lead into the fourth, where Laurier’s fate was sealed.

With four minutes left in the fourth quarter and Laurier down by 11, Ali Sow with a game-high 19 points took a three from the corner and was ejected from the game after receiving his second technical foul.

A very frustrated Justin Serresse picked up a technical foul from two different referees and was ejected with Sow after an animated display with the referees.

Asked about the ejections Coach Serresse was upset stating, “Sow got ran over… we know that the defensive player who ran into him is a very physical player, and I didn’t think that should have been called a foul, nonetheless a technical”

The ejections for both Sow and Serresse also resulted in a one-game suspension, meaning that the Hawks would be without their all-star guard and head coach against the defending champion Ravens the night following.

Furthermore, Serresse said, “I am frustrated with the way the league is set up and how one thing, which is not reviewable and which could be a flop can lead to an ejection as well as a suspension.”

Serresse mentioned as a result of  that “we did not have a fair chance in the game against Carleton.”

The Saturday night game against the Ravens, which was already going to be a tough battle, turned into an even more difficult challenge without the presence of Sow and Serresse.

The Hawks have never beaten the Ravens in franchise history and that didn’t change on Saturday as Carleton lead for the majority of the night.

Ben Stevens and Matt Minutillo put together strong performances, as did guard Romello Taylor who stepped in the starting lineup for Ali Sow; but it was not nearly enough, as the Ravens were able to expand their lead in each quarter and the lack of star power hurt Laurier.

The shorthanded Hawks went on to lose 85-52 and dropped to 2-2 on the season.

Laurier drops one spot to the seventh-ranked team nationally and will be looking for redemption when they play York tonight in Toronto. The Hawks will end their road trip with a matchup this Saturday against Lakehead.

With the Golden Hawks sitting in the bottom five of the OUA in nearly every major offensive category, Coach Serresse said that“The focus is on offense as we have not been consistent this year on that side of the ball… we need a complete game offensively.”

The Golden Hawks should get the offensive spark they need as leading scorer and all-Canadian Ali Sow will be back in the lineup, as well as Coach Serresse who will be back on the bench with his team tonight in Toronto.

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