It was ugly from start to finish – but really ugly at the start.
The Western Mustangs lambasted the Lakehead Thunderwolves in the opening quarter, keyed by a 21-0 run that stretched into the second and completed the weekend sweep with a 73-47 OUA men’s basketball rout that was really never in doubt after the first three minutes.
The Mustangs led 24-7 after the first, burying a Wolves team coming off a heartbreaking one-point loss the night before, a game they led by 11 with less than four minutes to play in regulation.
LU coach Matt Erdman, who spoke to his downtrodden troops for about 20 minutes after the lopsided loss, said they Wolves just couldn’t get anything going from the outset.
“We just weren’t ready to play tonight,” said Erdman, whose team fell to 4-10, but are still in sixth place, with a four-point cushion for the final playoff berth in the OUA West.
“I thought we made the necessary improvements … but it just didn’t translate to the court tonight.”
Erdman refused to lay blame on the disappointment of Friday night.
“It might have had an effect on them, but we’re trying not to use that as an excuse because every game you should come in with your best effort, knowing that standings are what they are. We just weren’t ready to play.
“We’re trying everything. We do game endings in practice, we do a number of things with our strength coach, but it’s really not translating and we’re just going to try to figure it out.”
The Mustangs (6-8), solidified their hold on a playoff berth, taking the Thunderdome crowd out of the mix in a hurry.
The two sides traded the lead back and forth in the early minutes, setting the stage for what appeared to be another barn burner.
But it never materialized. The Mustangs just kept scoring and scoring and scoring, riding the hot hand of Peter Scholtes, en route to a double-double, in the first.
Scholtes, a 6-foot-5 forward scored seven straight points to help key the 14-0 run that took a three-point lead and turned it into a 17-point advantage at the buzzer. Quinn Henderson, who finished with a game-high 21, scored seven straight of his own to start the second before Lakehead’s Josh Bell ended the run with a pair of free throws, the Wolves already trailing 31-9.
Scholtes finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Lakehead pulled to within 16 at the half, but there was little to cheer for the home side in the final 20 minutes.
Western stretched its lead to 21 after three, and coasted home in the fourth.
The crowd did give a hearty hurrah to Jamar Coke in the final stanza after his emphatic block on Scholtes led to a Henry Tan three-pointer.
They also got a little giddy when seven-footer Brent Wallace threw down a rare dunk, but with the Thunderwolves down 22 at the time, it was too little too late.
Erdman said it’s time for his leaders to step up and take over.
“Hopefully down the stretch they can kind of carry us and be the leaders that we expect them to be. We’re not as young as maybe you think we are,” he said.
Josh Bell, who led the Wolves with 11 points, went down hard in the fourth and had to be carried off the court by his teammates. He did not return, but was walking around after the contest.
Beyond the arc: Lakehead made 16 turnovers and just one steal. The Thunderwolves shot 34.5 per cent from the field and made just five of 15 free throw attempts.
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