After winning their last two games before the playoffs, UTM men’s Division 1 Blue lost their semifinal game to Scarborough by a score of 79–59.
From the tip-off, UTM couldn’t get into the offensive flow that got them this far in the postseason. They got open looks, but the shots weren’t falling at all. Scarborough adopted a zone defence that UTM didn’t know how to penetrate in a half-court offence. On the other end, Scarborough was having its way with UTM’s defence; they hit their first four shots and got off to an early 10-point lead midway through the first half.
During the regular season, whenever UTM’s offence struggled, their defence picked up the slack and got them going. That defence wasn’t there for most of the first half of this game. UTM guard Jonathan Harvey, who usually sparks the offence into action, couldn’t land his shots. Faiz Ahmed and Jordan Nazarene gave the team some momentum with tremendous hustle plays that got the crowd cheering, but the hustle didn’t translate into defence, where Scarborough got everything they wanted. Scarborough went into the break with a 12-point lead.
UTM came into the second half with renewed vigour; they picked up more rebounds and cut the lead down to eight points with 10 minutes left in the second half, but then their offence suddenly stalled again.
Harvey fouled out of the game with 10 minutes left. With their new player advantage, UTSC kept capitalizing on offence and drove their lead up to 14 points with eight minutes left.
Nazarene, Ahmed, and Osama Abdelkader were playing what might have been their last game in Eagles jerseys, and their motivation could be seen in their hustling. Nazarene caught an alley-oop pass, his first in all his time at UTM, which got the crowd going again. This was the highlight of the second half for the team. But on the other end, Scarborough scored with ease thanks to their starters and bench players.
In the end, UTM couldn’t come back from a slow start and it cost them the game. After the game, disappointed fans cleared out of the RAWC and the coaches congratulated the players on a season well played.
“The game went horribl[y]—worst game of the season,” said Harvey after the game. “I feel like I let the team down; I usually facilitate the offence, keep everyone motivated, and do some scoring on my own.”
The season started off with so much promise for Div 1 men’s Blue, but it ended with both the team and the fans disappointed and wanting more. But with the core group of Tevin Sutton Stephenson and Jonathan Harvey returning next season, UTM Blue will remain a very good team. Hopefully, the experience from this year will propel them to win it all next season.