Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mustangs down Blues

Tony Spiridis in action vs U of T 

Bethany Wood - Mustangs Athletics
LONDON, Ont. - The Western Mustangs men’s basketball team is back in business.

After a slow start to the season, Western came into tonight’s game looking for its first win of the season and earned it convincingly over the Toronto Varsity Blues. Four Mustang players had double-digit scorings and second-year, London native Greg Morrow contributed a team-high 21 points for the decisive 81-72 victory.

The home team maintained consistency with a 48.5% field goal percentage, garnering 30 points from the three-point line. The Blues maintained a high free throw rate, but fell to the Mustangs’ 39 team rebounds, limiting the team’s second chance scoring opportunities.

Morrow hit nothing but net with back-to-back three pointers in the first quarter to give Western a five-point lead off the bat. Teammate Quinn Henderson added two key points off his own rebound, while second-year Ryan Higgins subbed in to add another three off the short side. The 11-6 lead drove Toronto to a time out.

Fifth-year Blues veteran Arun Kumar stepped up to close up the gap; the Hamilton, Ontario native made two free throws and an impressive drive for two points. Ben Garvin followed up with a three pointer and lay up to close the lead, putting the Blues up 15-14. Western took a subsequent time out and used the pause to regain a 21-17 lead after the first quarter.

The Mustangs captivated the court in the second. Team scoring leader Peter Scholtes – ranked in the OUA top 20 thus far this season – got his feet under him, adding eight points and six rebounds. Morrow followed up, sinking 86% of his shots with aggressive, give-and-go play. Rookie George Johnson capitalized on a turnover chance with a key three pointer, while second year teammate Charles Drouin was a force on the backcourt with four rebounds. The full-court chemistry from the Stangs drove the team’s lead to 13 at the half – 42-29 – out-rebounding its opponents 19-12 on defense.

The Blues returned to the court with vengeance and went on a six-point scoring streak in the third, led by Matt Savel. The third-year guard drove to the boards and drew a penalty for a three-point play. The action went back and forth and Mustang Henderson added a pair of points to keep Western’s lead at nine. The Blues responded with two key three pointers in an attempt to tighten the scoring deficit.

Western rookies Anthony Spiridis and Jack Daneyko saw the court, while second-year Higgins stepped up with two three pointers and aggressive play on the backboard to maintain Western’s decisive lead, up 61-48 after the third quarter.

Toronto regrouped for a fight to the finish. The Blues struggled with team chemistry and foul trouble, but team leader Alex Hill – a top 10 OUA scorer – pressed hard to the boards for six straight points, tightening the gap to five and drew a Western time out. Hill and teammate Adam Plummer worked the court to find chances, but few turned to scoring opportunities.

Despite being outshot 24-20 by the Blues in the fourth quarter, Morrow and Scholtes’ experience paid off in the final minutes to draw a sequence of Toronto fouls, securing the 81-72 win.

The Blues fall to below .500 and head back to the drawing board for the team’s next game at Athletic Centre Sports Gym versus McMaster, while the Mustangs take the confidence from tonight’s win to Alumni Hall again tomorrow night.

Western (now 1-4 for the season) will take on the Ryerson Rams – ranked first in the OUA East, undefeated so far 4-0 – on Saturday, November 24. Tip off is at 8:00pm, with live coverage from MustangsTV on the SSN Canada website.

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