By Gabriel Rodrigues
Laurentian’s men’s basketball team remains undefeated and continue the Voyageurs’ “best start” to a varsity season in recent years, after defeating the McMaster Marauders and Brock Badgers during the weekend.
On Friday, Nov. 8, Laurentian defeated the Marauders 87-84 in front of a crowded Ben F. Avery Gymnasium during the Voyageurs’ home-opening season game.
The start of the game was fast paced, as both teams exchanged baskets throughout the first quarter, but after Laurentian substitute Ryan Bennett successfully made two straight three point attempts, the Voyageurs pulled away from the Marauders taking the lead 22-14.
The second was nothing like the first, as McMaster started capitalizing on Laurentian turnovers forcing the Voyageurs head coach, Shawn Swords, to call a timeout at the 6:02 mark of the quarter.
But, after the timeout, Laurentian had no reply to a 13-1 Marauders point scoring run to end the quarter, as McMaster took a 46-35 lead going into halftime.
In the third, Laurentian came out strong, forcing the Marauders to turnover the ball, leading to the Voyageurs going on a 14-2 run in the first five minutes of the quarter.
However, McMaster would tighten up defensively while both teams started to exchange points for the remainder of the quarter with Laurentian leading 65-63 going into the fourth.
Laurentian kept the lead during an anxious quarter, as the Voyageurs managed to get away with the win, scoring 22 points in the fourth, and improving to 3-0 on the season.
“We did a good job of executing,” said Swords. “Once we handled the pressure and made sure we do a good job defensively and not giveaway easy layups. We did well in both areas, but I’d like to see it for the full game.”
McMaster centre Taylor Black led all scorers with 26 points, adding 10 rebounds and two assists in the game.
Laurentian guard, Alex Ratte, led the way for the Voyageurs as he scored 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Also, Nelson Yengue proved to be a difference maker as well for Laurentian scoring 23 points, eight rebounds and three key blocks throughout the game.
The game came down to free-throws, as Laurentian managed to go 21-30 (70 per cent) from the line compared to the Marauders 11-21 (52.4 per cent).
On Saturday, Nov. 9, the Voyageurs won against the Badgers 93-72 starting the season off undefeated at 4-0, Laurentian’s best start under coach Swords’ era.
The first quarter was controlled by Laurentian with the Voyageurs attacking and scoring on the Badgers’ basket, taking a 23-10 lead going into the next quarter.
The second was a little more even, as Brock started hitting shots, but Laurentian pulled away scoring 22 points compared to the Badgers’ 20, leading at halftime 45-30.
In the third, Laurentian kept scoring, but the Badgers continued to capitalize on Voyageurs’ turnovers resulting in easy layups.
However, the Voyageurs would tighten things up on defense and took a 19 point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Brock continued to push the Voyageurs, but Laurentian countered the Badgers throughout the rest of the game winning by over 20 points.
“We didn’t do a good job of executing,” said Swords. “We have to get a little more consistent in the offensive zone and make sure we do a good job defensively because turnovers gave them easy buckets. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased we won, but I’m still seeing some room for improvement.”
Ratte led all scorers in the game with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Brock forward, Dani Elgadi, was a force for the Badgers, as he scored 22 points including 14 rebounds in the game.
Yengue once again hit timely shots scoring 17 points and tallying seven rebounds for Laurentian. Also, Voyageurs forward, Tychon Carter-Newman, had an influence with 18 points and six rebounds of his own.
Swords said he’s pleased with the way his team has performed, as this is the “best start to our season.”
“We don’t look at our record because we have our own record about work ethic, out hustling and outsmarting a team, so if we look at it, we lost it tonight,” he said. “They did a better job of outworking us for a greater portion of the game. For us, this is technically a loss. We don’t play the score, we play ourselves and how we will improve every day.”
Ratte scored a combined 59 points this weekend, but believes his team should’ve “put the game away” against Brock.
“It was just lapses of mental focus,” he said. We played well, but instead of us winning by forty points, we let them hang around, which made it uncomfortable at times for us. We really have to be disciplined and keep our focus throughout the game, whether we are up twenty or thirty points.
Ratte said the team needs to continue improving.
“As a group, our defensive and offensive transition needs to be more consistent,” he said. “Everything needs to get a little bit better. We need to learn from every game and built from it. Next weekend will be a big statement for us.”
Laurentian hosts the Guelph Gryphons on Friday, Nov. 15, and the Lakehead Thunderwolves on Saturday, Nov. 16, with both games starting at 8 p.m. at the Ben F. Avery Gymnasium.