Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
McMaster's Rohan Boney charges through Lakehead's Joseph Jones in first-half play Saturday night. Jones had nine points as Lakehead advanced to the OUA Final Four with an 81-76 win.
After finishing high school, Dwayne Harvey left Hamilton to play college basketball south of the border.
Each summer he returned home, and each summer he was denied access to the McMaster Marauders gym to practice his game.They should have been a little nicer. It seems Harvey has a bit of a chip on his shoulder against his hometown team.
On Saturday the Lakehead guard taught the Marauders a playoff lesson.
Harvey teamed with fellow back-court guru Greg Carter in the second half to help the host Thunderwolves rapidly erase a 12-point halftime deficit, much to the delight of the raucous, overflowng Thunderdome crowd.
When all was said and done, Harvey dropped 17 points and added five assists, while Carter poured in a dozen and collected seven steals, rallying the Wolves to an 81-76 OUA West semifinal win.
It earned Lakehead yet another date with the Carleton Ravens, who downed Laurentian 95-75 in an OUA East semifinal. Windsor and Ottawa will meet in the other Wilson Cup semifinal next Friday at Ryerson, the host Rams' hopes spoiled by Ottawa on Saturday night.
Harvey said he wasn't about to roll over and hand the victory to McMaster, despite their fast start.
"I saw my team down and I knew we needed a spark, so I tried to play the way I know how to play," said Harvey, who spent two seasons at Alabama State before transferring back to Canada.
The Marauders didn't see what hit them until it was too late.
Trailing 39-27 coming out of the break, within four minutes Lakehead had cut the deficit to one. Harvey and Carter traded baskets to start the half, then did it again, pulling Lakehead within seven. Ben Johnson, who finished with 13 and struggled to get open all season long, hit a three to make it 42-41 McMaster. Then Harvey, as he did all night, charged the McMaster defence, took it to the hoop and gave Lakehead it's first lead, 43-42, with five minutes left in the third.
Harvey said coach Scott Morrison reminded his players at halftime that they'd rebounded late against the Marauders the weekend before, earning a first-round bye with a 78-75 come-from-behind Feb. 15 win.
"He basically said (take it) one possession at a time, play smart. We're not going to win in one possession," Harvey said.
"We bought into it."
Johnson said without Carter and Harvey, the national championship dream might be dead and buried by this point.
"They got us going. They got us going and then it's tough to keep track of three-point shooters when you're in transition."
Once the buckets started to fall, the Marauders had a hard time stopping the likes of Johnson and Thomson, who nailed a key three midway through the fourth, after McMaster had cut a nine-point LU lead to just four. Not to be outdone, Johnson who like Thomson had no points at the break, stopped and popped after a defensive stand and Lakehead was up 67-59.
"The second half came, I got to the foul line, saw the ball go in and kind of believed it from there," Johnson.
He blamed the slow start, that saw the Wolves down 17-5 in the first and unable to find the basket, on nerves.
"I think it was everyone just waiting for that moment, waiting for us to get going. And then it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. That score doesn't happen and then we fall into trouble," Johnson said. "But once we lean on our defence, which is what we did in the second half, I think we're tough to beat."
The Wolves, who let Tyler Black drop 18 first-half points, kept him in check in the third, not allowing him a point. And while he did add another 11 for the Marauders in the fourth, the majority came after Lakehead had built a double-digit lead, too little too late. Aaron Redpath had 16 for McMaster, who were also without sophomore guard Adam Presutti.
Morrison said the Marauders made them work for the win.
"We can be thanking our blessings right now we were able to come back in that game. On the one hand, I told the guys I wasn't surprised, because those guys have made a living doing that knd of thing on any given night in big games," Morrison said. "But at the same time we've got to realize we are fortunate. They outplayed us for the first 20 minutes and if it wasn't for some timely turnovers we would have lost that game."
The win may have been a costly one. LU foward Ryan Thomson hurt his left knee with 14 seconds left to play, the outcome all but decided at that point.
Beyond the arc: Win or lose it was the final game at the Thunderdome for six LU players: Johnson, Carter, Joseph Jones, Yoosrie Salhia, Brendan King and Thunder Bay's Matt Schmidt ... The extent of Thomson's injury won't be known until Sunday at the earliest. He was wearing a brace on his left knee after the game and had to be helped back to the locker room by several teammates.