The UTM Eagles men’s basketball team lost to the UTSC Maroons last Wednesday with a final score of 66-57. The game was filled with intensity as the score kept fluctuating throughout the game. Excited fans had high energy from start to finish, creating an exuberant atmosphere with the noisemakers that were handed out at the beginning of the match.
UTM’s Waleed Mushtaq started the game with a turnover in the first 30 seconds, keeping players fighting from the beginning. UTSC took advantage of mistakes, tallying up points early in the game.
At the 11-minute mark, the UTM Eagles’ mascot joined the game, which increased the fans’ enthusiasm. This effect rippled out to the UTM players and there was a sudden shift in the match. The energy of the UTM players remained active; three-pointers and shots were made, creating a close game. The Maroons’ quick passing offence was a lot to handle though, and by the three-minute mark, UTM was down 16-24. With only three minutes left in the game, Coach Juan Nunez made the tough decision to put UTM’s Andrew Williams on the court, even though he is currently recovering from an injury.
At half-time, a show was put on by UTMAC president Belal Raifai and the Eagles’ mascot. They handed out various prizes such as brand new basketballs and treats for the fans watching the game.
The second half proceeded with ups and downs. UTM had to adjust to the UTSC defence after they were outscored from a loss of focus early in the second half. The Eagles didn’t adapt to the Maroons’ defence, especially when UTSC big man came back out. He did not allow one rebound to be made by the Eagles, and he converted the rebounds into easy points in the paint.
Williams had an impressive second half, scoring seven points despite his injury; he finished with 11 points in total. The play of the game came from Williams with six minutes left in the second half. Williams made a swish mid-range shot, and moments later UTSC caused a turnover. He proceeded to drive to the basket with full force. While in the air, he was hit by a UTSC player. Even with the tough play, he managed to get a layup and a foul. At this point, the crowd got up on their feet. Despite the marvelous performance by Williams, UTM was still down by seven. The Maroons had a huge impact by their rebounding efforts, which gave them easy points. UTM accumulated many fouls, which gave UTSC easy free-throw points.
After the final whistle, Eagles coach Juan Nunez commented on how his players will come out and compete in their next game in order to win. “Get healthy [because] four of our players are injured. We need to work on plays and communication,” he said. He mentioned that they’re in a good position and believes his team will do well in the playoffs.
“It has been hard because of an injury-riddled season. We have to adjust to the game and find comfort in one another,” says a confident Williams.
The Eagles will have a three-week break until they play another game.