Laurier splits weekend

After staying in the game against Windsor, the Hawks upset No. 7 Western 76-71 in overtime thriller at home

Photo by Tristan Renaud
Photo by Tristan Renaud

After dropping an 88-77 decision to the Windsor Lancers last Wednesday, the Wilfrid Laurier men’s basketball team bounced back with a very impressive win in their home opener on Saturday versus the No. 7 nationally-ranked Western Mustangs.

In a very entertaining contest, the Hawks outlasted the competition en route to a 76-71 overtime win.

Head coach Peter Campbell was very pleased with his team’s performance.

“We had a great start and then we hit a little funk in the second quarter, but I thought we bounced back during the end of regulation and through overtime,” he said.

“That was a great game for both teams.”

The Hawks were going up against a Western offence that is focused on establishing their presence inside and really looked to feed their big guys for post-ups. Campbell made some adjustments to combat Western’s post-heavy offence by inserting third-year forward Vlad Matovic into the starting lineup to use his height at 6’8” to strengthen the Hawks’ defence.

“Right off the bat we started two posts instead of our normal one,” Campbell explained.

The Hawks were also tasked with trying to stop one of the premier scorers in the Ontario University Athletics conference, Greg Morrow.

Morrow was the main source of Western’s attack and finished the game with 32 points, five rebounds and four assists. Campbell decided to double-team Morrow down the stretch to slow him down a bit.

“Our goal in the last eight minutes was to double him and take away his right hand,” he said.

Another strategy Laurier employed was to put on a 2-2-1 press on defence, designed to give Morrow less time to operate.

“It can only go on when they commit to it, we’re trying to use it a little bit and the whole idea there was to give them less time to isolate Morrow,” Campbell explained.

A big reason that the Hawks were able to pull off the impressive win was the solid all-around performance by first-year guard Simon Mikre who finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

Fifth-year Will Coulthard also was integral to the Hawks win on Saturday, putting up 19 points and six rebounds.

Mikre is not yet fully adapted to the up-tempo style of the OUA level, but was key in the Hawks’ win on Saturday.

“It’s a much faster pace,” said Mikre.

Mikre did a good job running the Hawks’ offence throughout the game and into the overtime led the Hawks to shoot a very efficiently, as he shot 4-for-7 from the field in the extra frame.

“It was a big win for us against one of the top 10 teams in the country,” Mikre said.

With the split performances last weekend that brought the Hawks overall record to 1-1, Campbell hopes his young team can learn from it and build confidence going into the rest of the season.

“To come away with a win on that one was a good accomplishment and it should be a good learning experience for our guys,” he said.

The Hawks resume game action with back-to-back matchups against the Algoma Thunderbirds this Saturday and Sunday in Sault Ste. Marie. Tip off is at 3p.m. at George Leach Centre.

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