Laurier upsets Ottawa with a close finish

Photo by Tanzeel Sayani

The first matchup in a big weekend for the Wilfrid Laurier University men’s basketball team was against the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Friday night, with the Gee-Gees looking to win big once again.

Laurier had other plans though, quickly showing opponents that this isn’t the same team from last year.

Both teams started out fast trading baskets, with Tevaun Kokko scoring Laurier’s first eight points of the game. The first quarter would consist of both teams playing well on both sides of the ball but also a deadlock as the score would be 18-18 at quarter’s end.

The second quarter would start out slow as only three points were scored in the first two minutes – courtesy of Ali Sow for Laurier. From there it would be back to trading baskets; but at one point the Gee-Gees would find a way to get the game’s largest lead, going up 37-32. The Hawks would answer swiftly, as a jumper by Kokko and another three from Sow made the score at halftime 37-37.

The third quarter would turn out to seem like much of the same as they would trade blows and exchange leads throughout. This was until the last 1:09 – when Brandon Robinson would change that for Ottawa. He would hit two threes to close the quarter, giving Ottawa a six-point lead going into the fourth.

In the fourth, Laurier would manage to take the lead a couple of minutes in, but they would still go back and forth for the duration of the quarter. With under 10 seconds – and the score at 78-75 for Laurier – Golden Hawk Matt Minutillo would seal it.

Tipping an inbound, he forced a half-court violation against Ottawa and would go on to hit two free throws to make the final score 80-75.

“Obviously [it was a] great game,” head coach, Justin Serresse, said. “We stuck to the game plan for … almost 40 minutes and that’s the goal with a young team, trying to make as little mistakes as possible.”

“We made some clutch shots, we stayed composed, we stayed together … I thought we did a good job for almost 40 minutes … and it showed tonight,” Serresse said.

“What we take away from those games is, if we make mistakes against elite teams, we’re going to pay cash, and that it’s going to be very hard for us to beat those teams.”

The following night, the matchup would be against national powerhouse, the Carleton Ravens. Ottawa may have been a nationally ranked team as well, but the Ravens proved to be a whole different beast.

The Golden Hawks would start out fast and on fire as they would jump out to a 15-7 lead early in the quarter, hitting five three-pointers. Fast forward to a score of 17-10 for Laurier; the Ravens would come back with a vengeance. They would go on a 12-2 run to finish the quarter with a three-point lead at 22-19.

In the second quarter, Carleton would kick it up another notch; they went on a 14-0 run in the first 3:39 of the quarter. Continuing to turn great defense into great offense, Carleton would put a beating on Laurier, outscoring the Hawks 31-11 in the quarter – going into halftime up 53-30.

In the third quarter, the Hawks would manage to play them better but Carleton wouldn’t give them much. Every time Laurier cut the lead to 20 or 21, they would turn it up a notch again, as they would finish the quarter up 24 points.

The fourth quarter turned out to be a lot of the same, as they refused to let up, regardless of the fight Laurier put up, and added to their lead. For the second game in a row, the Ravens would reach the 100-point mark as the final score would be 100-64.

When asked what the biggest factor in the loss was Serresse simply said, “Turnovers.”

“24 – only seven in the second half – but 17 in the first half. I thought, ‘great effort, great fight for the whole game,’ but rebounding and turnovers were the key, and without a few key players, obviously it’s really, really tough to beat that team.”

Still a youthful team, Laurier has plenty to take away from a game like this.

“What we take away from those games is, if we make mistakes against elite teams, we’re going to pay cash, and that it’s going to be very hard for us to beat those teams,” Serresse said.

Next up for Laurier will be York on Friday, Nov. 17 at home, as they look to bounce back and improve their record to 3-3.

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