Mustangs Take Fourth Straight Over T-Birds
Western Mustangs Men's BasketballGreg Bowman
The Western Mustangs were looking to stay atop the OUA West standings on Friday evening as they were hosting the Algoma Thunderbirds in the first of two back-to-back meetings on the weekend.
The Mustangs were 8-4 coming into play, just a half-game ahead of second-place Brock whom they defeated just one week prior. The Thunderbirds occupied the sixth spot in the division with a 4-8 record but came into Friday winning their last two contests.
Home court was certainly friendly to the purple and white to start the game, as the energy from the crowd and the marching band backed them to a quick 20-8 run in the opening frame, forcing the first timeout from Thunderbirds’ head coach Thomas Cory. The stoppage settled Algoma enough to not concede a point for the remainder of the quarter, trailing 20-10.
The Thunderbirds quickly took over the second quarter, with Peter Wetuvanga leading the charge with 10 points in the frame on perfect 3-3 shooting from the field including one from deep. Brad Campbell was forced to call a timeout under two minutes into the frame. Western did settle itself though, as they were able to regain control, in large part to the paint penetration of Omar Shiddo, who had 7 points in the quarter. The Mustangs would go into the break with a 39-32 lead on 41% team shooting from the field.
The third quarter is often a detriment to the purple and white, as they have the tendency to lose control of the game. They gave up a 13-point lead to the Brock Badgers in their previous game and were determined to not allow that to happen again. They would control the play, sharing the ball, and getting many players into the action. Whether it was Marko Kovac or Omar Shiddo calling their own number and driving, or Julian Walker and Alex Coote aiding in the rebounding efforts, the Mustangs put together a team-oriented third quarter. They would lead 64-56 after three.
The fourth quarter saw Western ease up a bit, as they were not operating nearly as smooth on offence and were giving up many second-chance opportunities to the Thunderbirds’ offence. The Mustangs’ lull would be emphasized by a vicious slam-dunk from Wetuvanga which forced Brad Campbell to call a timeout with a 72-70 lead. Western would come out of the timeout with improved defence, causing turnovers which led to a quick 7-0 run. The Mustangs wouldn’t look back from there. As they gave up just five more points in a 90-75 final score.
The Mustangs were led by Marko Kovac, who had a game-high 25 points on 8-15 shooting—all with an ailing right hand. Omar Shiddo took the most looks for the Mustangs, going 6-17 for 19 total points. Nik Farkic did not register a point in the game but did contribute on the defensive side with four steals, adding to his OUA lead.
It was the Mustangs’ fourth win in a row, and they will look to extend it to five in a row on Saturday evening in a rematch at Alumni Hall with an 8pm tip-off.