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It’s hard to pinpoint the Men’s Basketball team’s losses this past weekend on one single thing. The roaring atmosphere at Lakehead’s gym, The Thunderdome, could be one reason.
Lack of confidence could be a reason but a misguided one, as the team has played with their heads high throughout the season.
The McMaster Men’s Basketball team was on an eight game winning streak until this past weekend. Friday’s OUA Central division match-up saw the Marauders take the 73-67 loss and Saturday ended on a similar note.
McMaster held a 17-15 lead after the first quarter, 42-31 in the second quarter and 58-48 lead in the third quarter. Anybody looking at these numbers could have concluded that the Marauders were destined to win.
However, the fourth quarter stats were a little different.
The fourth quarter is when shots matter the most.
Of course, it is important to set the pace early on in the game but time and time again, leads evaporate in the fourth quarter. This was the case for McMaster’s Friday night game. McMaster scored eight points in the ten minutes of the last quarter, while Lakehead answered with 25.
Performance in the fourth quarter predicts winners and upsets. Upsets occur when a team expected to win losses to the underdog. This was the storyline for the McMaster Marauders for the first game of the two-game series.
Lakehead had the momentum and the noise in their home court backing them up.
While McMaster saw double digit points from three of their players (Aaron Redpath: 15, Leon Alexander: 15, Connor Gilmore: 14), it was not enough to silence the Thunderwolves. Lakehead was led by Bacarius Dinkins who accounted for 27 points and 15 rebounds.
Saturday night’s match-up saw the Marauders lose a late lead and fall to the Thunderwolves back-to-back.
Fourth quarter action determined it all again.
With under two minutes left in the game, McMaster led 72-64. From that point on, the narrative changed in favour of Lakehead and McMaster came up short as they were outscored 10-0.
Without leading scorer Alexander suited up for Maroon, Rohan Boney had a solid night with 18 points. Lazar Kojovic also had 16 points off the bench in a great performance for McMaster.
For the first time this season, the Marauders lost back-to-back games. For the first time this season, McMaster lost to a team ranked lower than them.
Because of this, the Marauders fell in both the CIS Top Ten ranking and their OUA Central division. The team’s nine wins and four losses have now placed them seventh in the country and seeded second in the division.
Losses are tough, especially this late in the season, and especially when McMaster has the talent to produce greatness.
This group has certain statistics they want to keep teams below. They have goals to score a certain number of points, while ensuring they limit the opposing teams.
Cold shooting in the fourth quarter will need to be addressed for a team that wants to compete for a championship banner.
With a week away from competitive play, the team will have to regroup and prepare for one of their biggest tests this season.
Two of the nation’s best, Ottawa and Carleton, will visit the Burridge Gym on Feb. 12 and 13. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. both nights. These will be two games that Marauder fans will not want to miss.
Photo Credit: Alistar Boulby