There’s only a handful of games left in the regular season and Lakehead and Laurier are still tied for first in the OUA West, while McMaster and Windsor are tied for third. As far as national rankings, both Lakehead and Laurier held firm as the second and sixth best teams in Canada, respectively. McMaster was probably the happiest team this weekend winning both their games and seeing a Lakehead sweep of Windsor to let McMaster back in the chase for the West title. Although it’s still statistically possible for both Windsor and McMaster to win, this division is a two-team race. Lakehead’s got the easier schedule between the two teams, but sometimes that complacency, combined with teams trying to get a final playoff spot, has been known to cause upsets. Laurier will have their work cut out for them as they play some of the best that the West has to offer. With three weeks left, the top four spots in the West could get interesting.
Wednesday, Jan. 25
Guelph 74 vs. McMaster 82
I think Guelph is at the point where they just throw their hands in the air and come close to quitting. They’ve had an awful second half record-wise, but have come close in almost every game they’ve played. The game against McMaster was no different. What's hurt Guelph is little to no secondary scoring. Daniel McCarthy and Kareem Malcolm can put up all the points they want, but they need at least two or three players to help out. Guelph only had 10 bench points, which isn’t going to cut it. McCarthy finished with 15 points and 4 rebounds, while Malcolm had 27 points and 3 rebounds. Both had their usual stellar night. For McMaster, Adam Presutti had a career-high 27 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Taylor Black helped out with 16 points. The win let McMaster jump back into a tie for third place with Windsor, thanks to a little help from Lakehead sweeping the Lancers.
Friday, Jan. 27
Lakehead 87 vs. Windsor 83
This was a little closer than I thought it would be. It goes to show that Windsor isn’t a pushover in the West and can battle with the best of them. Lakehead got out to a quick start in the first quarter with a 19-10 lead, but Windsor slowly picked away at it and were actually up 81-80 with two minutes left. Lakehead, though, does what Lakehead does best and made key shots while stepping up defensively. The Thunderwolves' Venzal Russell had 20 points, while Ben Johnson had 19 points and more importantly, 5 points in the last two minutes to give Lakehead the win. Windsor looked to Enrico Di Loreto and his 22 points. Lien Phillip finished with 12 points and a game high 12 rebounds. One aspect of concern for Lakehead were the points in the paint. Windsor dominated with 36 to Lakehead’s 18. It’s something the Thunderwolves have struggled with all year and something that might hurt them in the playoffs. (Ed. note: Ben Johnson's 13 threes over two games broke the game of basketball, so points in the paint are kinda overrated - BD)
Player of the Week
Guard - Lakehead Thunderwolves
If there’s one strong point in Johnson’s game, it’s shooting. And on the weekend he was doing a ton of it, and nailing most of them. In the weekend series against Windsor he was 14-29 from the floor, a mind-boggling 13-20 on threes and was 7-8 on free throws. This was all in only 60 minutes of playing time, so he averaged about a shot a minute. His final stat line was 48 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. In the Friday game his clutch three with two minutes left gave Lakehead the lead and his two-pointer put the game out of reach. On Saturday night, his threes pretty much dismantled any comeback by Windsor in a 85-79 Lakehead victory. Johnson may not be the best player in the Thunderwolves lineup, but when it comes to threes he’s the best in the CIS with a 55.7% average.
Upcoming Game of the Week
Laurier vs. Windsor
Wednesday, Feb. 1
With first place in the OUA West down to Laurier and Lakehead all it takes is one loss for one team to seal the division. Fortunately for Lakehead, they’ve got a fairly easy schedule in the few remaining weeks before the playoffs. Laurier, though, not so much. They start with Windsor and still have to face McMaster, Guelph, Windsor again and then end the year on the road against McMaster. With all those teams clawing their way into the playoffs Laurier isn’t going to get an easy game the rest of the season. They’ll also have a bitter Windsor team coming off a weekend sweep at the hands of Lakehead. This will likely be one of the hardest tests of the year for Laurier. As with every Laurier game, I’d expect a lot of scoring and a tight game down to the last couple of minutes.
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