On Saturday November 23, following a definitive win by the women’s team, UTM’s Varsity Men’s basketball team looked to follow the ladies’ win with one of their own. They narrowly escaped a Viking comeback to win 80-76.
Unlike the ladies’ game before them, the men’s team began their match with a lot of energy. Despite the intensity from both teams, neither was able to score in the opening minutes. St. Lawrence broke the seal on the game, scoring the first buckets and then going on a 7-1 run which forced UTM into an early timeout.
Out of the timeout, not much improvement was seen by the Eagles, who were a step late on defense, costing them multiple Viking three-pointers. The Eagles were out-shot beyond the arc until number two guard Keaton Thornton made a three-pointer while getting fouled. He completed the 4-point play, sparking some life into a defeated-looking UTM team. The Eagles finished the quarter down 14-21.
The Eagles were still unable to tighten their defense as the second quarter began with the Vikings shooting their lights out on their slow close-outs. UTM went into a full-court trap defense to put pressure on the Vikings in the final three minutes of the half. It worked, forcing St. Lawrence into turn overs the Eagles capitalized on. Great defense translated into great offence with back-to back three-pointers from number six senior guard Nicholas Kwanti and number 12 senior forward Zamam Khan. With forty seconds left in the half, a deep three-pointer by Khan gave UTM its first lead of the game. They finished the quarter with a 39-36 lead.
Out of the locker room after the half-time break, UTM went into a full-court defense. The team put pressure on the Vikings, forcing them into bad passes and poor shot selections on offence. The Eagles continued their offensive onslaught while keeping St. Lawrence to just three points in the opening minutes of the quarter. The Eagles played a little too physically and were called out on a lot of fouls early on, which led them to enter into the penalty with still a lot of time left in the quarter.
Fortunately for UTM, the St. Lawrence players were unable to capitalize on the early penalty situation and were unable to make three-throws. But, the scoring drought for the Vikings didn’t last. Too many empty possessions and sloppy plays by UTM helped St. Lawrence get back into the game. UTM continued to put St. Lawrence at the foul line for free points, but they finished the third quarter barely on top 64-56.
At the beginning of the final quarter, a drive and kick out by Thornton lead to an open Kwanti three which put UTM up 11 points. The Eagles continued their defensive pressure and intensity, fighting for loose balls and rebounds, even diving out of bounds to save balls. But it wasn’t enough to fend off a hungry Viking team who adjusted to the stifling UTM defense to come back out on top with the lead. Both teams were in the penalty with just under a minute left in the contest, the lead changing constantly.
A tough finish at the rim by number fifteen guard Shaquille David and an and-one finish by Khan put UTM up by two points. Smothering UTM defense forced the Vikings into an out of bounds violation. St. Lawrence fouled UTM guard number zero, Kyle Boorman, who made both free-throws to put UTM up by four.
UTM finished on-top of the Vikings 80-76 to complete a home sweep.