The men's basketball team managed to improve their early season record to 3-0 Friday evening, as they slipped by the U of T Varsity Blues 68-63 in front of a packed house in the Thunderdome. As a bonus, they did it while sporting many a mustache in support of Movember.
It should also be noted that the Thunderwolves did not succeed without weathering a storm in the second half from the Blues, who fought back from trailing 24-10 in the the first half, to eventually take the lead 51-50 on an Alex Hill dunk in the third quarter. Blues Justin Holmes and Arun Kumar gave a big boost during Toronto's run, combining to hit on 6 of 11 from long range for the game. U of T would build the lead to 55-51 before Lakehead got their ship back on course, behind the ever-impervious defense of Greg Carter, who finished the game with 10 points, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Carter's overall tremendous athletic display had the Blues playing out of their comfort zone as crunch time approached.
With Lakehead leading 66-63 and under 30 seconds to play, the final nail in Toronto's coffin would be driven by their own hand, that of Alex Hill, who turned the ball over on a poorly placed lead pass to Justin Holmes during a U of T 3-on-1 fast break that surely would have ended in a lay up, if not a three pointer from Holmes.
Venzal Russel led the Pack with 15 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Ryan Thompson provided 16 points and a memorable 'Adam Morrison' impression for fans with a slick pencil mustache, not to mention a smooth stroke from behind the arc (4-of-11). Ben Johnson was the fourth T-Wolf in double figures with 10 points (2-3 from three). Johnson also hit the clinching free throws at the end of the game.
Although there were few lip hair follicles to be found on the Toronto roster, it did not keep four of their starting five from hitting double figures. Veteran big man Andrew Wasik led with a very efficient 17 points (8 of 11) and 6 rebounds. Kumar had 13, while Holmes and Hill scored 11 each.
For the game, both teams combined for 20 fouls, and only 10 free throws were taken. Lakehead out-rebounded U of T 34-26.
Coach Scott Morrison, who opted for a set of handlebars in support of 'Movember', had this to say post game:
"Like the good team they are, Toronto stayed collected and recovered from a big deficit after our hot start (24-10). We are doing a great job playing when we have momentum but need to learn to stay level and determined when things are not going exactly our way."
"I thought the two biggest factors in the win were team rebounding and ball pressure, especially Greg Carter who has been a game changer in our first 3 conference games. We now have to shift our focus to a fast paced Ryerson team tomorrow night."
The men play the Ryerson Rams at 8 pm tomorrow evening in the Thunderdome.