The Badgers road trip didn’t conclude the way they wanted it to, but they returned home this past weekend to play two games against the Algoma Thunderbirds. Their first meeting saw the Badgers cruise to a 101-71 win, led by Johneil Simpson’s 24 points and five rebounds, Daniel Cayer’s 14 points and eight rebounds and Cassidy Ryan’s 18 points.
Cayer was extremely active on both ends of the floor, deflecting passes and forcing opponents into difficult situations. Heading into the winter break, Cayer led the OUA West in offensive rating and was second in defensive rating.
“It’s huge — especially in the FIBA game, teams play small, teams play big, so to have a guy to do that only makes you more versatile on both ends of the floor,” said Brock head coach Madhav Trivedi when discussing Cayer.
The second game started off well for Brock, as they came out on a quick 9-0 run, forcing Algoma to call an early timeout. The Badgers extended the lead to 14 after the first quarter thanks to a buzzer-beating three from Simpson, and they would go on to take a 23-point lead after the third quarter.
The Badgers, however, were outscored 31-15 in the fourth quarter, largely due to a half-court trap laid out by Algoma that caused a number of Badger turnovers. While Brock still held on for the 90-83 win, the game ended up being much closer than it should have been.
“We can’t get comfortable with any lead we have,” said Badgers forward Johneil Simpson. “We have to just keep executing, keep getting stops on defence, and just stick to our principles — stick to the things that got us in that position.”
Simpson showed once again why he is one of the premier offensive talents in the OUA, scoring a career-high 40 points off an extremely efficient 16-for-22 from the floor, including 8-of-12 from three.
“We were just executing, [my teammates] found me in good spots, I got my feet down, I was ready to shoot. I just got some shots to fall tonight,” said Simpson.
Simpson also spoke on the terrific chemistry he has with the other long-time Badgers.
“[Daniel Cayer, Tyler Brown] are third and fourth year guys, [Cassidy Ryan] is obviously a fifth-year senior, so just that experience, the summers we put in together, the seasons we play together, you naturally just form a feel for each other on the court. I guess it’s starting to show, starting to find a rhythm at the right time during the season,” said Simpson.
Cayer recorded 10 points and 15 rebounds, while Brown dished out 10 assists on the night. On the Thunderbirds side of the boxscore, Elijah Butler put up 13 points and 19 rebounds, while Nathan Riley added 23 points, six rebounds and six assists.