In a Division 1 basketball game unlike any other, UTM fans had the unique opportunity to cheer on both the home and away teams as UTM White and UTM Blue faced off against each other for campus bragging rights.
The first half saw great attacking by both squads. Austin Chambers of the UTM Blue opened the scoring, but the momentum quickly shifted in favour of the undefeated first-place UTM White team. Chambers and his team were able to claw their way back, successfully bagging three shots from behind the three-point line before teammate Victor Dang got on the scoresheet and closed the gap to 17-20 with 10 minutes remaining in the quarter.
UTM White were able to count on veteran Jeff Thorpe to show his form in this all-important game. Thorpe, along with Andrew Williams, led UTM White in scoring, converting 11 of the Whites’ 84 points despite solid defending by UTM Blue. Thorpe was also spectacular on the defensive end, blocking shots and rebounds to increase the point margin on his side.
UTM Blue responded with more offensive drives, Greg Roberts going coast-to-coast and Adrian Lopez-Williams nabbing a three-pointer in the dying minute to bring the score to 49-43 for UTM White at halftime.
The second half opened with a well-mounted comeback from UTM Blue, who desperately wanted to close the six-point deficit. Lopez-Williams kicked off the scoring by making a sensational run to the rim and getting the hoop and the harm. He later beat UTM White player Miguel Bediones to score another three-pointer, while Roberts continued the scoring on a pass from Ekpedeme Moren.
UTM White’s Zak Khan was their best player of the night, having netted over 40% of his team’s total tally, keeping his team ahead of UTM Blue despite the constant pressure.
Chambers, on the other end, helped UTM Blue claw their way back from a deficit to sit only one point behind their division rivals with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Williams and Khan dominated in the remaining minutes, forcing a defensive breakdown of the UTM Blue team. UTM White held on for their 10th straight victory with an 84-79 win.
Windsor found themselves in early penalty trouble as forward Spencer Pommells received a hooking penalty, giving U of T a man advantage.
UTM Blue coach Amer Askary wasn’t pleased with his boys’ performance. He voiced his discontent, stating, “What you saw tonight was only 50% of our potential on the court.”
Coach Juan Nuñez of UTM White was more optimistic, though still dissatisfied. “We’re good, but not great,” he said. “We made a lot of errors, which could have cost us the game, but we still pulled through. Right now, we only need one more win to reach the finals. We want that championship.”
UTM White prevailed in a game based on offensive tactics, but the team nearly lost their lead several times throughout the match. They’ve managed two victories out of two games against the Blues, but their foes are only a hair short of overcoming their dominance and could very much feature against them in the finals if they can both qualify and find a way to edge them in the playoffs.