Brock men’s basketball have their eyes set on the Final 8 tournament, but without looking too far ahead they knew they needed to get the job done against the Laurier Golden Hawks in the OUA quarter-final matchup.
The Badgers jumped out in front with a 13-0 run against the Hawks, something they didn’t do in their last game against Laurier. In the January game, the Badgers were outscored 16-12 in the first quarter and key players Cassidy Ryan and Johneil Simpson finished a combined three-of-23 from the field.
Ryan and Simpson showed up huge on Saturday night scoring 29 of the Badgers 53 first half points on route to a 91-73 victory.
Head coach Charles Kissi used the word ‘huge’ when discussing the first half success, saying the team needs to continue to come out strong in the opening quarter if they want to make a long playoff push.
“You saw in the second half we started to wear down, but they ran out of time,” said Kissi. “It’s important that we start well, it was one of our goals.”
The second half was a completely different story, as the Golden Hawks began to make a push, but Tyler Brown scored 10 of his 14 points to keep the Badgers up 30. The Hawks outscored the Badgers 34-18 in the fourth quarter, but time did run out on them.
Ryan finished with a team-high 23 points and six rebounds, while Simpson scored 21 points on six of seven shooting from three.
“Nothing, it wasn’t about getting anyone going,” said Kissi when talking about how the team got Ryan and Simpson hot. “It was about executing our game-plan and we did that tremendously in the first half.
The Hawks shot 11.1 per cent in the first half, but finished shooting 33.3 per cent. Their top two scorers, Ali Sow and Tevaun Kokko were kept quiet in the first half, but Sow finished with 22 and Kokko had eight.
Kissi was happy with his teams defensive performance against the two young guards and hopes to see the defence transfer over as the playoffs continue.
The weak spot for the Badgers, however was turnovers. They turned the ball over 30 times to the Hawks 20. It’ll be something they need to clean up as they head to the OUA Final Four.
With Ryerson beating Ottawa 77-69, the Rams will be making their way to St. Catharines on February 28 to play the Badgers. The winner will punch their ticket to the OUA Championships and a berth into the U Sports Final 8 tournament.
The Badgers were in this situation last year, but lost to Carleton in the Final Four and missed the Final 8 due to the committees’ decision.
The Badgers have repeatedly said they don’t want to leave their Final 8 decision to the committee, so Wednesday night will be that more important. The Badgers and Rams have built a historic rivalry over the last three seasons and it’ll continue again. Brock is 2-0 against Ryerson this year, beating them both in exhibition and in season.
Make sure to pick up a copy of The Brock Press on February 27 or checkout brockpress.com for a preview for the February 28, Brock versus Ryerson matchup.