Men's basketball completed a season sweep of the Guelph Gryphons last night with a 94-73 victory led by Mustangs guards Eriq Jenkins and Nikola Farkic.
Jenkins finished the game making each of his nine field goals, including five three-pointers, while Farkic accumulated his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 assists.
With the win, the Mustangs retain first place in the West Division, yet still trail the Carleton Ravens by 2 games for first in the overall standings.
The result of last night’s matchup was 94-73, though the game was much closer in the first half than the final score might suggest.
The first half was closely fought between the teams, with the score going back and forth and the lead changing several times. The Mustangs trailed the Gryphons in the early going, but dug in defensively, initiating an 11-0 run to take the lead about five minutes into the first quarter.
In the second quarter, with the game tied at 28, the Gryphons tightened their defence — preventing the Mustangs from scoring for almost three minutes. But the Mustangs powered through the scoring drought, keeping pace with the Gryphons throughout the period and never trailing by more than seven points.
The game took a scary turn about four minutes into the second quarter. After a steal by Farkic and a fast break, Mustangs forward Aaron Tennant drove to the hoop. The trailing Gryphons guard Pablo Villa fouled Tennant hard on the dunk attempt, sending the Mustangs guard tumbling to the court.
An audible gasp could be heard from the crowd as Tennant lay on the court taking stock of the play. Words exchanged between Villa and Mustangs guard Omar Shiddo forced the referees to separate the two players. They called an unsportsmanlike foul on Villa, and Tennant sank one of his two foul shots and the Mustangs receiving possession of the ball.
As the half drew to a close with the Mustangs trailing by two points, the team drew up a play.
Farkic took a screen from forward Julian Walker and drove left toward the free throw line. He stopped short, turned and found guard Ukasha Khan in the corner, who caught the ball on the hop and pulled up just before the buzzer sounded. The shot arced high and clanked in, putting the Mustangs up by one point, 47-46 at the half.
With the team discussing strategy in the locker room at halftime, the Mustangs clearly placed emphasis on team defence.
While in the first half, the Gryphons ran their offence successfully through guard Malcolm Granville, the second half Mustangs changes presented additional challenges for the visiting Gryphons. The Mustangs quick switches on pick-and-rolls forced late-clock hero ball from the Gryphons players — who oftentimes took well-defended jumpers as the shot clock expired.
In the entire third quarter, the Mustangs defence held their opponents to only four made field goals.
The Mustangs' success on defence translated to easy offensive production. The home squad scored 31 points in that quarter, mostly through layups, dunks, and short-range shots. With fast breaks from Gryphons turnovers and high-percentage shot attempts, the Mustangs extended their one point halftime lead to 20 points—propelled by stingy team defence and efficient offensive production.
By the end of the third quarter, the Mustangs put the game out of reach. With a backdoor pass from Farkic to Walker for a posterizing dunk over his defender, the crowd erupted in cheers with the score at the break 78-58 in the Mustangs' favour.
In the fourth quarter, the Mustangs continued their dominance led by Julian Walker’s 13 point, 10 rebound double-double and 14 points off the bench from Ukasha Khan.
The Gryphons never mustered a quality comeback as the Mustangs defence forced 7 turnovers and held their opponents’ field-goal percentage to 25 per cent in the frame.