It looked like a runaway at first, but in the end it was the timely shooting of Ryan Thomson and Greg Carter's stellar defence that kept the Thunderwolves among the undefeated.
Lakehead's No. 3-ranked men's basketball team opened up a 15-point lead after the first quarter, but stumbled badly in the second half, trailing by as much as four points to the unranked University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
Thomson nailed a three, his third of four on the night, three minutes into the final period, pulling the Wolves to within a point. Carter, on the Varsity Blues subsequent trip down the court, stole the ball then raced down the court to restore the LU lead, an advantage they'd never relinquish, pulling away for a 68-63 win.
"They're a good team. They're not going to roll over and die when adversity comes. They're going to battle back," said Thomson, who led the Wolves (3-0) with 16 points. "We kind of had an energy letdown in that second quarter. We tried to bring it back in the second half and came out on top."
It helped that their shots began to fall again.
After Lakehead hit five of 12 three-pointers in the first half, including back-to-back treys by Joseph Jones, it seemed none of the Wolves could hit from anywhere on the court as Toronto continued its surge into the third and fourth quarters.
Thomson said patience is the best medicine.
"It's a little bit frustrating, but our guys know they're good shooter and they take a lot of reps during the week. Eventually they're going to fall, they're going to have to," Thomson said.
Scott Morrison, the veteran LU coach, didn't appear to have the same level of confidence on the sidelines, pacing back and forth as the visiting Varsity Blues took the thunder out of the Thunderdome.
It's something he planned to address with his players in a post-game talk.
"Right now I think we've got to find a way to stay level more. We're great when things are going well, we get fired up and are running and gunning and playing great D. But when a couple of possessions don't go our way, all of a sudden the energy drops, the talk on our bench drops. Guys' confidence, you can see it in their faces drop," Morrison said.
"We've got to address that and work on handling success and adversity the same time out. When that happens hopefully we can sustain their runs a little more."
The Wolves started this one with an impressive run of their own – after staking Toronto to 5-3 lead.
Ben Johnson nailed eight straight, including two three-pointers, part of a 12-0 run that had the Wolves up 17-5. Then, after Toronto rolled off five straight, Jones buried two threes and the Wolves were up 25-10.
But the Varsity Blues, who fell to 1-2 with the loss, carved into the lead and trailed by 11 at the half, then took over the game in the third.
Arun Kumar was good from downtown on back-to-back shots, cutting the LU lead to 44-43, then minutes later Alex Hill stole the ball from Johnson and raced down the court, a thunderous two-handed dunk giving Toronto its first lead since the opening minutes.
"It's definitely harder to keep your energy up when you're up 15 then when you're down five. But again, in this league, when you get a team like Toronto down, you've got to put them away. We were fortunate to be able to regroup there in the fourth quarter and tighten things up and not get a loss in this one," Morrison said.
Lakehead takes on Ryerson on Saturday night at 8 p.m.
Beyond the arc: The Wolves are one of just three unbeaten teams in the OUA, the others being Carleton and Laurier ... Ottawa, due in town next Saturday, and Lakehead's victim in last year's semifinal, have started the season 1-2... Carter leads the OUA with 11 steals ... The Wolves only attempted five free throws on the night, hitting three of them.
Click here to report a typo or error
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Remember me next time.