Last Wednesday, fans saw the UTM Eagles men’s basketball team take on Woodsworth College for their third game of the new season. UTM lost a hard-fought contest 87-74.
The Eagles started the game dominantly, with a field goal and a steal in the first minute, but Woodsworth opened up a four-point lead. Given ample space to shoot by the Woodsworth defense, they squared the game and took the lead with a string of field goals. A few three-point plays allowed the Woodsworth to keep pace, and a string of offensive gaffes by the Eagles saw Woodsworth close out the first quarter with a six-point lead.
The Eagles’ head coach only made two substitutions to begin the second quarter. The Eagles conceded a string of fouls that eroded their offensive prowess, and Woodsworth’s lead held steadily around five to six points. One shot from beyond the arc got the home team to within two, forcing Woodsworth to use their first timeout six minutes into the quarter. Play resumed with the visitors in possession and the hosts changing to zone defense, and the visitors took full advantage of the transition, knocking down a three-pointer to restore the deficit to five, with two minutes until half-time. Greg tied the game with three of four free throws, a three-point play, and a three-point block fit for any highlight reel. The first half ended tied at 37 apiece.
The game became an intense end-to-end contest, as the third quarter started with an 11-12 scoring run by both teams. Both teams eventually had to manage their pace, with a few missed field throws to slow things down before a three-point play and a field goal by Woodsworth restored their lead to seven points, forcing UTM to take their first timeout. It was the visitors who maintained their momentum through UTM’s first timeout, with a series of successful drives combined with a stuttering Eagles’ offense extending the visitors’ lead. Two free throws by Yonis brought the Eagles past the 50 milestone, before a 6-0 run brought the visitors to 63, with a seven-point lead before Mustafa Abdool slashed the deficit with a buzzer-beating three. The third quarter would end 57-61.
The fourth quarter started wearily, as both teams got busy for the last time of the night. It would be a low-scoring half, until a three from the visitors extended Woodsworth’s lead. UTM thus used another timeout. The visitors ran riot after play resumed, opening up a double-digit lead for the first time in the game.
With two minutes left, the visitors slowed down a bit. Alessandro Tanzi had a three discounted due to a blocking foul, adding to the Eagles’ mounting frustration. They defended furiously with a minute left on the clock, notably with a few violent double-teams. A furious drive punctuated an altogether docile final four minutes from the hosts. Woodsworth used another timeout with 38 seconds left; play resumed with Ibrahim shooting two free throws, before he limped to the sideline following a subsequent collision. The following play saw a loud verbal altercation between both teams, after what Al-Rehany thought was an intentional foul. No technical fouls were issued. A few lay-ups and free-throws concluded the game, Woodsworth winning 87 to 74.
Both teams will look to their next game assured of their defense, although Woodsworth will be seeking to close down faster after allowing a string of field goals during the second quarter. Both defenses were sound, and the game saw relatively few successful drives. Offensively, the Eagles will look back on this game with distaste; many possessions concluded with travelling calls.
All in all, UTM started thunderously, but Woodsworth used the height of their centers and power forwards to great effect, snatching seven offensive rebounds, including two tips.
The Eagles have two weeks to adjust, as their next game is an away clash with Rotman on November 7.