Saturday, 1 March 2008

Mustangs make plans for Ottawa by routing Badgers

Marvelous Mustangs: Western back to national tournament for first time since 2001 Western will travel to play for OUA Wilson Cup against the winner of tonight’s OUA East Championship between Carleton and Ottawa on March 8 with spot at the CIS Final 8 already secure; ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - The story continues for the upstart Western Mustangs men's basketball team, as they continued their winning streak, knocking off Brock 79-62 at the Bob Davis Gymnasium on March 1. As the cliché goes, the Mustangs came into March like a Lion. They'll hope to go out as one. Western qualifies for the CIS national tournament, the Final 8 Tournament hosted by Carleton University in Ottawa. Fifth-year forward Adam Ruickbie played another phenomenal game, with a series of key boards and blocks to allow Western to maintain the lead in the third quarter. Western exploded for a 51-35 run in the second and third quarter, taking Brad Rootes out of the game and moving on for victory. "It's really an unbelievable feeling," said Ruickbie. "We said to ourselves at the start of the season that we were going to set a goal to win the OUA West championship and go to the nationals." "Here we are, we peaked at the right time," he added. "What a better way to finish my career." For a second straight game, Andrew Wedemire had a brilliant game off the bench, scoring 11 points and adding 10 rebounds. Brad Smith, who was relatively silent in the OUA West semi-final win at Windsor, scored a game-high 20 points. Owen White paced the Badgers with a team-high 18 points. Rootes was held to just 15 points. The Mustangs outrebounded the host Badgers 27-17 in the second half, dominating possession and dictating the flow of the game. Western looked shaky in the later stages of the game, perhaps feeling like they'd wrapped up the game with a 25-point lead midway through the third. But they limited their turnovers and rushed play in the final five minutes, en route to the victory and their first berth at nationals since 2000-2001. That year after Western knocked out the Victoria Vikes, the Mustangs lost to Alberta for gold 76-71 in Halifax. It was the two years before Carleton began their run, and the undefeated host Ravens will look for their sixth straight CIS title on home turf at the ScotiaBank place. The Mustangs will play the winner of the Ravens-Ottawa Gee-Gees OUA East Final for the Wilson Cup on March 8. Although Brock looked good early - especially after Rootes hit his first shot of the game on the Badgers' second possession from down-town - Western had control of the game 18-13 after first quarter. It was 32-22 Western with just under five mintues remaining in second quarter for Western and 36-23 with just under three minutes remaining in the half. With a lead as big as 15, Western led 39-29 at the half. Western went on a 15-6 run to end the second quarter. Smith was unbelievable in the start of the second half, scoring eight of Western's first 10 points in the half, to stretch their lead to 51-32, with a lead as big as 25 in the quarter. In the fourth, the Mustangs started to play sloppy but they regrouped late to hold onto the lead and victory. Brock only came within 15 points in the fourth quarter. White was the top Badger on the day but he got into foul trouble early in the second quarter which cut his hot streak. Western's bench scored 21 of their 39 first-half points, with rookies accounting for eight. Ryan Barbeau and Garrett Olexiuk played key minutes, finished for a combined eight points and four boards in the opening 20 minutes. The Mustangs committed 15 turnovers in the game. Western outscored brock 52-20 in the paint. After the Wilson Cup against the Gee-Gees or Ravens on March 8, the CIS Nationals are March 14-16 in Ottawa. Check for a full preview and ticket information throughout the next two weeks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good write up on the OUA west final.
However, I must point out one factual error.
Western last made nationals in 2002.
In fact, the Mustangs lost in the final that year to Stephen Parker's Alberta Golden Bears, the last CIS champion BC (before Carleton)!