With the interlock period over, McMaster’s men’s basketball team sits with five wins, three losses and a No. 10 ranking in the CIS top-ten.
Their record also puts them in a tie with Windsor for first place of the OUA West standings.
The East is undoubtedly the stronger conference.
At the end of cross-conference play, the East was a combined 49-19 against the West. Carleton and Ottawa are both 8-0, with Ryerson right behind them at 7-1.
McMaster owns the lone victory over Ryerson, and was tied with Carleton and Ottawa in the fourth quarter of each game.
Head coach Amos Connolly said he wanted to have six wins – pointing to the 87-84 loss to Laurentian as the game that should have been a sixth victory – but was satisfied with the team’s play.
“We’ve lost three games to teams whose combined record is 20-2. Should we have lost to Laurentian? Ottawa and Carleton? We took ourselves out of those games. There’s glimmers that we might be an okay team,” said Connolly.
After a two-and-oh weekend, Mac put their fourth quarter woes from the previous double-header in the rear-view mirror.
Despite a five-point fourth quarter against the Queen’s Gaels, McMaster found a way to get the win.
They forced turnovers throughout the quarter and pressured the Gaels into a bad shot at the end of the game.
The next day while taking on York, Mac surrendered a ten-point lead but still came through with a W.
It was Taylor Black and Presutti – the two Marauders Black said needed to step up in the fourth quarter – that led the Maroon and Grey through.
Black hit a three off a great Lazar Kojovic pass and rebounded a missed shot and threw down a right-handed dunk.
Presutti sealed the game by making two free throws.
“I think that we got that performance from Taylor and Adam, and that the guys played off them, was good,” said Connolly.
The head coach also praised Aaron Redpath for his defensive work in both games, forcing turnovers and irritating the team’s scorers.
The third-year combo guard has long been regarded in coaching circles as the “X-factor” for this team, but his defensive play has grown and Redpath has disrupted some of the best scorers he’s faced.
McMaster turns now to inter-conference play before the winter athletic break.
They ran Guelph out of the gym in the second half, winning 89-64.
The game was fast-paced and physical, but the Marauders were clearly the better team.
The squad shot 35 of 66 from the field.
On Dec. 2, Mac will head to London, Ont. to take on the Western Mustangs (2-6).
The ‘Stangs have been a tough team to figure out. They grabbed an 11-point victory over the then-ranked Laurentian Voyageurs on Nov. 22 but also lost to Carleton 117-42.
Mac throttled the Mustangs last year at Alumni Hall and have the potential to do the same this year.
Mac will need to run rampant over the West in order to grab the No. 1 spot in the conference over Windsor, as the Lancers are capable of using a stifling defence to go undefeated in the West.
But with the up-and-down play McMaster has shown in games this season, time can only tell where the Marauders will finish.