The Western Mustangs took on the Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees this weekend in their two game home-stand. Without star forward Marko Kovac, out for an extended period due to injury, the Mustangs were still able to get off to hot starts in both of their matchups before eventually falling short.
On Friday evening, Mustangs trailed the Ravens 23–21 after the first quarter. Fourth-year point guard Nik Farkic had a solid outing, shooting 5-of-8 from the field and 2-for-2 from beyond the arc in the first half, giving him 12 points on the evening.
Nik Farkic for 3!Western 24 Carleton 25| 2Q 7:50 pic.twitter.com/x4B4sZWyTS— Western Basketball (@Mustangs_Bball) November 10, 2018
The Mustangs went cold in the third quarter, however, sinking only two free throws as the Ravens looked to fourth-year guard Yasiin Joseph to lead the charge. He scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Ravens to an 82-51 victory. Coach Brad Campbell noticed some adjustments needed to be made after the loss.
“This weekend exposed some holes we have,” said Campbell. “Now it's time to get to work. Playing without Marko right now requires us to play a little differently, and we need to be able to adjust.”
The last time the Mustangs took on the Ottawa Gee-Gees was November of last year, when they fell five points short of an upset in a 67–62 loss. In that game, third-year guard Eriq Jenkins cooked up the Gee-Gees, scoring 25 points on an efficient 11-of-16 shooting performance along with three steals and four boards.
The Mustangs competed hard at the start of the game on Saturday against the Gee-Gees. Third-year guard Omar Shiddo led the drive as the Mustangs only trailed by three at the end of the opening frame. Unfortunately, with three minutes remaining in the first quarter, Jenkins received a technical foul and sat for the remainder of the game. Without Jenkins and Kovac in the lineup, the Mustangs were able to give their younger players more minutes. Freshman big man Aaron Tennant started for the first time in his university career.
“It felt great to be part of the first push of the game,” said Tennant. “It was also really cool to start in front of my friends and family.” The freshman scored a career high 10 points and added on four rebounds and a block.
Tennant matched up with Ottawa's veteran front court and held his own. He demonstrated his athleticism below, as he took Ottawa's Andrew De Groot to the left-hand side of the basket and made a quick 180-degree spin and laid it in with the right hand.
Aaron Tennant with the post moves!!Western 15 Ottawa 13 | 1Q 2:25 pic.twitter.com/UoBZW1EVUt— Western Basketball (@Mustangs_Bball) November 11, 2018
Campbell thinks experience is all Tennant needs to excel.
“The more he plays, the more experience he will get, and he will become a very good player,” Campbell said. “He is a versatile, athletic big who can defend multiple positions.”
But without their two key players, the Mustangs still struggled on both ends of the floor against one of the best teams in the nation.
The Gee-Gees continued to feed their sharpshooters as they shot 50 per cent from the three-point line. The Mustangs, on the other hand, could not heat up from the perimeter — shooting 5-of-28 on the night.
Dropping the second game of their back-to-back, Western now sits at 3–3 on the season.
With Kovac, who had 13 points and four boards in his lone appearance this season, remaining out of the lineup for an uncertain amount of time, the Mustangs will have to move on without one of their top scorers and rebounders.
However, Tennant remains confident in his team's ability to continue to succeed without Kovac.
“Marko doesn’t only add talent to the lineup, but his experience is just as valuable," Tennant explained. "It’s going to be hard having a leader such as Marko out and it will definitely call on others to take on bigger roles, but I believe in the team’s ability to overcome adversity."
The Mustangs will take on the Windsor Lancers this weekend in a rematch of last year's Ontario University Athletics quarterfinals. The game begins at 2:00 p.m. from the St. Denis Centre in Windsor.