Almost 5,000 screaming fans and a sea of red chanting will be what the Meridian Centre will look like this Saturday. The best basketball players in all of U Sports on the court. The Brock Badgers, ranked second in the country, will face the powerhouse that is the Carleton Ravens in what will be the regular season game of the year for the OUA.
However, before the big game, Brock men’s basketball almost had an embarrassing hiccup against the McMaster Marauders this past Friday versus McMaster. Mac was 1-6 coming into the Badger Den on Friday, where Brock has been dominant, their smallest margin of victory being 10 points against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks. The final score against McMaster of 96-87 is not indicative of how close the game actually was.
With just 1:23 to go in the fourth quarter, McMaster was only down by four, but they would never get any closer as Brock iced the game with some crucial free throws.
However, this was not how Brock expected the game to go. The team came out slow and sloppy at start of the game, not taking care of the ball with wild passes and panicking when running into double teams. With 3:21 left in the first half, the game shifted as McMaster guard Miles Seward — who had 14 points, four rebounds, two assists, no turnovers and was 4-for-5 from downtown — went down with an injury.
“I was just closing out [on a shooter] and I just felt a sharp pain in my knee,” said Seward. “I tried to get back into the game, but I just didn’t feel the same.”
Seward says he should be ready for Friday when Mac hosts Carleton.
When he left the game, McMaster was leading 37-33, but Brock ended up closing the half out on a 15-6 run. They still left a lot to be desired on the defensive end. Defenders got caught on switches and screens, and were left running wildly out at shooters who would simply find the open man for the shot. Brock allowed the Marauders to shoot 50 per cent from the field while the Badgers only mustered up a 40.5 per cent shooting percentage.
Coming out of halftime, the momentum had shifted to Brock’s side, after Seward spent only seconds on the court before the pain was too much for him to bear. With a back-and-forth third quarter, head coach Charles Kissi leaned heavily on his starters. It was only in the fourth quarter that seven-foot-one centre Donald Mims was brought in, but even still, the starters played 170 out of 200 minutes.
Although the Badgers led with their largest lead of 13 points with 6:25 to play in the fourth quarter, McMaster forward David McCulloch single-handedly tried his best to put his team on his back, finishing with 26 points, five rebounds, two assists, but a costly seven turnovers.
Coach Kissi and the Badgers know they underperformed and cannot be happy about letting McMaster stay in the game for almost the entire four quarters. Kissi was at a loss for words when searching for an answer as to what happened this past Friday.
“I’m not psychic, but I will assume we didn’t practice very well, hence we didn’t play very well,” said Kissi.
This weekend, the Badgers will play ninth-ranked Ottawa then turn head up to the Meridian Centre for the highly-anticipated clash against Carleton. While the players are excited, coach Kissi promises, “It’s nothing they haven’t seen before.”
Speaking of the number-one ranked Carleton Ravens, they too will be on the back-end of a doubleheader as the play the aforementioned Marauders this Friday, and McMaster coach Patrick Tatham will be making sure his team is not overlooked.
“We’re going to look back at this [game] and we’re going to get better. We’ve had a few of these games already, so it’s just a matter of time before we break through and get a [win].”
Hopefully for Brock, the Marauders can give the Ravens just as hard a time as they did the Badgers.
And the Badgers will surely have some work to do. Asked about what Brock needed to improve on after this game, the answer was short and sweet from Coach Kissi: “Everything.”