After Brock men’s basketball split two games in Lakehead this past weekend, the door has opened wide in the OUA central for McMaster.
After taking down the Marauders early in the season twice and both teams falling to Carleton and Ottawa, it seemed the division shouldn’t slip away from the Badgers. Yet, Brock now stands at 6-4 and McMaster is on their tails at 6-5.
Last week I wrote the following line in my Brock basketball article: “The way Brock is currently playing they should be happy to win at least one of two versus Lakehead.”
As the two games in Thunder Bay have passed, that line came out to be true. Brock barely pulled out a win against the Thunderwolves, which continues to diminish the Badgers likelihood of being a final four in the OUA playoffs and this past weekend could be the cause of Brock falling out of the top 10 in U Sports.
In game one versus the Thunderwolves, the Badgers kept close as the road team. After the third quarter the score was 50-49 Brock. But like the story of the season, the Badgers didn’t have a strong finish as they were outscored by 12 in the final quarter. They would fall to Lakehead 75-64.
Brock’s plus-minus in the fourth quarter for the season dropped to -36 after this game. That’s why when Brock entered the second half of Saturday’s game down 24, most people were quick to hit the panic button on the Badgers.
Then something changed coming out of the locker room for the second half. It was like someone said ‘will the real Brock men’s basketball team please stand-up’ and the Badgers took that literally by not only standing up but showing up.
Brock would outscore Lakehead 25-13 in the third and come out even stronger in the fourth by outscoring the Thunderwolves 23-9 in the final quarter, completing the 24-point comeback for a 71-69 win.
The most impressive part of the comeback was that it wasn’t an individual that single-handedly brought the Badgers back but a collective effort. Johneil Simpson, who came off the bench for the first time all season, would lead the Badgers with 18 points. Dani Elgadi would bring home a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds and Daniel Cayer, starting in place of Simpson scored 13 points. Rookie guard Michael Asemota would also be impressive with nine points off the bench.
Turnovers have been a major issue for the Badgers this season as heading into the weekend they ranked second last among OUA teams. However, this weekend they only turned the ball over a total of 21 times.
This one weekend and two strong quarters doesn’t mean Brock has found their style of play and are all of a sudden the team that most expected them to be, but it gives them hope for the second half of the
They will return home for the next three games for tough matchups against Queen’s, York and Ryerson. If Brock wants to come away with at least two wins in those three games they’ll need to perform like they did in the second half of the second game versus Lakehead.
After a loss in Nipissing, the team’s chemistry, or lack thereof, was up in the air. They found that chemistry against Lakehead, and now it’s about carrying the momentum over.
There’s no easy games in the OUA, but Brock must come out with a record better than 6-4 in their next nine games. If they want to be taken serious again around the league, I predict them to have to finish with a record of at least 7-2. Their toughest game will be against the nationally ranked Ryerson. However, Brock doesn’t have to win that game, they just need to show they can compete.
The Badgers have had multiple exhibition games and 10 regular season games to find the chemistry. That excuse can no longer be in play. This is a OUA final four team on paper, it’s time to show it on the