The Western Mustangs men's basketball team was defeated by the Windsor Lancers in their Ontario University Athletics quarter-final meeting by a score of 89–72. This defeat marks the end of a tremendous bounce-back year for the Mustangs, who finished the season second in the OUA West.
The Mustangs met with the Lancers for the third time this season, having defeated them twice during the regular season. Despite a strong performance from Omar Shiddo, with a whopping 29 points, the Mustangs were unable to overcome the Lancers' momentum.
With the notable loss of floor general, Nikola Farkic, due to injury, the Mustangs struggled to get into the flow of their offence early on, trailing 29–38 at the half. Farkic led the Mustangs in assists and steals and was instrumental in the two regular season victories against Windsor.
"Nik is obviously a huge loss for us," said Mustangs head coach, Brad Campbell, on the absence of his point guard. "A guy that gets people shots for us and a guy that does a good job defensively for us as well."
Shiddo started to heat up during the second half to help cut the Lancers' lead to four points. However, with a few timely stops and the momentum flowing in their favour, Windsor took over the game late in the final quarter and were able to close out the win.
"I thought in the first two games [against Windsor] we did a lot better job offensively," said Campbell. "I don't think out defence was particularly great, but I thought our offence hurt overall."
This season proved to be a strong year for the Mustangs, improving from a poor 7–13 record last year to a respectable 15–9 record this season. Two of the veteran players that helped propel this team to success, Henry Tan and Jedson Tavernier, are now graduating and leaving big shoes to fill for the returning players.
"Its been an honour man," said Tavernier when asked what it has meant to wear the purple and white. "Its such a prestigious program and I am happy to be a part of it. Its a brotherhood."
However this Mustangs team remains young, with its two main scoring options returning next year. There is much to be improved upon, but with the upcoming off-season, the Mustangs have ample time to become the OUA powerhouse they're capable of being.
"We have a lot of young guys, a lot of up-and-coming guys that definitely played a key role this year," said Tan. "If they continue to work hard and play within the system, I feel like they can definitely go far."
Despite the untimely ending to a hard-fought season, nobody is certain what the ceiling is for the young Mustangs squad. They are expected to use this loss as motivation to fuel their improvement and show up in the fall, retooled and ready to showcase their skills.