The Division 1 UTM Eagles men’s White basketball team defeated Woodsworth College 69-51 last week after a thrilling first-half performance.
UTM controlled the game with a quick pace and penetrated Woodsworth’s defence. At a mere six minutes into the game, UTM was overwhelming their adversary by a score of 19-4.
The home fans relished UTM guard Miguel Bediones’ show. Bediones first assisted Zakanya Khan in the paint with a seemingly instinctive back pass, and Khan rose above his opponents’ defence to drop the ball into the basket. Bediones often took advantage of the many turnovers committed by Woodsworth to exploit the paint.
Woodsworth’s defence focused on containing Bediones. With the rest of UTM’s offence unmarked, the ball stayed in UTM’s possession until Bediones launched a torrent of three-pointers, scoring five points in two minutes. He dribbled around Woodsworth’s guard to score on a layup and then bagged a terrific three-pointer after taking only one look at the basket.
Within 10 minutes, the unchecked Eagles led with a score of 27-8. Much of this success was owed to UTM’s unhesitating Jeff Thorpe, who used his height at the core of Woodsworth’s offence to net 10 points in the first half. Paolo Militar also played well, scoring on a beautiful solo effort under pressure from the opponents’ defence. By half-time, UTM led at 48-23.
The second half was a different spectacle. Early on, neither team could dominate the other in offence and the ball kept switching camps. Then, Woodsworth’s offence organized itself, using everything they had to pressure UTM and attempt a comeback. They started passing the ball quicker and tried to make UTM’s defence shuffle.
Luckily, Thorpe led UTM’s defence through the Woodsworth storm. He was often the one to grab hold of UTM’s rebounds and he stuck to Woodsworth’s forceful #97 on UTM’s occasional turnovers. Thorpe kept up his energy and made multiple steals, capitalizing on a Woodsworth counterattack while outnumbered two-to-one in front of the basket. Thorpe and the rest of the team held off Woodsworth and won the game, 69-51.
“I tried not to be emotional after being frustrated on a few occasions,” said Thorpe. “I had a good game […] I constantly have to be on the lookout to see that the ball doesn’t get around the first line of defence. When it does, that’s when I have to do my job.”
UTM’s coach, Juan Nunez, was satisfied with the performance of his players and gave them credit for their impressive scoring in the first half. “Woodsworth wanted to slow us down, which they unfortunately were able to do in the second half,” he said. “Our zone offence was quite sloppy by then, but our man-to-man defence strategy thankfully prevailed in the end. The game was won by teamwork.”
UTM White will face U of T Law on November 13 at St. George.