Men’s basketball dominates back to back against Algoma
Men’s basketball got back to their winning ways this past weekend as they swept the weekend series at home against the Algoma Thunderbirds.
After a setback last week on the road against Guelph, the Golden Hawks know they needed to turn it up with the playoffs only three weeks out. One of their best team performances in the past decade led them to a victory on Friday night, before a resilient effort on Saturday gave them the weekend sweep.
With the two wins this weekend, the Golden Hawks have won four of their last five games played and have gotten back to their brand of basketball in the new year. In 2020, Laurier is now undefeated with four wins at the Athletic Complex.
On Friday night, Laurier put forth their highest scoring game of the year by scoring 97 points, while also allowing the lowest amount of points against them in over a decade only giving up 42 points to Algoma.
In what was a 55-point blowout win for the Golden Hawks, 11 players scored and Coach Serresse’s team led from the tip. Notably, the team came out with more energy as fourth-year guard Ntore Habimana returned from injury for his first game action since November 2nd against Carleton.
Habimana came back and provided a spark for the Hawks by scoring 11 points to go along with six assists and a dominant defensive performance.
“He has practiced very, very well, his team actually won every scrimmage game we had in practice since he got back, I knew he was going to have a big game,” Coach Serresse stated after the game.
Ball movement was on point all night as Ali Sow scored 16 points and Kemel Archer contributed with his sixth double-double of the season, recording 18 points to go along with 10 Rebounds.
Adnan Begovic began the game for the Golden Hawks with a deep three and Laurier did not step off the gas from there. Laurier held a 30-point lead at halftime and only gave up 17 points to the Thunderbirds in the second half. The 42 points given up by the Hawks was the least they have allowed since a 100-35 win over Royal Military College in 2008.
Coach Serresse was pleased with his team after the performance, “we scored a lot off of our defence and I was very happy with that because we had been working at it. Our presence and the defence tonight were very good.”
“What impressed me most of the game was the six assists [Habimana] had, his activity on the defence was also very good,” Serresse added about the returning Habimana. Laurier played in a much different game on Saturday afternoon in the rematch, as Algoma stuck with them and played tough. The Thunderbirds even led the game a couple of times in the third quarter before team MVP Ali Sow took the game over, as he only can.
With a tight game in the fourth, Ali Sow played all ten minutes, scoring eight points and hitting two deep threes to bring the energy back to the Athletic Complex and regain a comfortable double-digit lead for the Golden Hawks.
Habimana, Archer and Minutillo made key shots down the stretch as well, including Habimana who scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half. However, it was Ali Sow who led the charge, leading the Golden Hawks with 20 points.
When asked about the tight contest in the third and fourth quarter, Coach Serresse mentioned that he was rotating lineups trying to find a spark until, “Ali gave us two deep threes, to give us a bit of breathing room.”
With two more great performances, Ali Sow remains third in the OUA in points per game, with 23.2.
Ntore Habimana was named male athlete of the week for his performance in his first action on the court in nearly three months. The women’s team also swept their back to back with the Thunderbirds, while Jill Condron was named female athlete of the week.
For the men however, they sit at a record of 8-9 and are now tied with Windsor for second place in the OUA West division, Windsor does have a game in hand.
The Golden Hawks are also two points clear of Guelph for third place in the West division. With five games left, the Golden Hawks seem destined to make the playoffs as they are eight points clear of Waterloo, Toronto and Nipissing who are attempting to grab one of the final spots.
The Golden Hawks know the playoffs are ahead of them and continue to fight their way back to a 0.500 record. With much experience from last year, Laurier and Coach Serresse know that now is the time to start playing their best basketball.
The Laurier team is now fully healthy, much to the liking of Coach Serresse and will look to continue their defensive surge in their final five games of the season. The defense is now top five in the OUA, only allowing 74 points per game.
The Golden Hawks will travel this weekend for two road games against Ontario Tech and Queens University. This will be their first matchup since beating Queens in November of 2018 and will be the first ever meeting between the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks and Wilfrid Laurier
Golden Hawks. Tip-off for those games are Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm in Oshawa and Kingston respectively