The Mustangs men’s team struggled to play as a team in defeats to the Lancers and Golden Hawks last week, while the women’s team rode a strong group effort to wins against the same opponents.
Western University’s women’s team spoiled the opening night of the University of Windsor’s new Toldo Lancer Centre, with a tightly-contested 65–64 victory over the Lancers. The Mustangs caught a lucky break near the end of the back-and-forth affair, as Windsor missed multiple free throws, allowing Western to call a timeout and run the clock out.
Fourth-year guard Ariane Saumure led the women’s team with 24 points, shooting seven for 19 from the field and four for eight from the three-point line. Saumure also recorded a team-high three steals and two assists in 32 minutes on the court.
Having a team of players who can impact the game in different ways is something third-year wing Ashley Truesdale named a key factor in the team’s performance.
“Everyone found ways to contribute in both games, whether it was points, rebounds, or defensive plays,” said Truesdale. “We’re starting to understand how to play together and trust each other, especially when the games were close or we were down a few points.”
Truesdale played seven minutes off the bench, scoring three points and grabbing one rebound.
According to Truesdale, resilience and staying connected with each other helped the Mustangs emerge victorious in both their games — including in Friday night’s showdown against Laurier.
Western faced a tough start against a strong defensive Laurier team that forced a lot of turnovers in the first quarter. With the Mustangs down by two points, they pulled together as a unit to improve their rebounding and scoring chances, and near the end of the second quarter, they finally took the lead and ran with it.
Second-year wing and forward Sarah Harvey led Western with 22 points, shooting nine of 15 from the field.
“We had our ups and downs in both games but we kept pushing through to the final buzzer, making sure we were working together as a team and supporting each other,” said Truesdale, who scored seven points off the bench.
The men’s opening weekend painted a different picture — one that would leave the Mustangs point-less after two games.
Against Windsor, the men’s team lost a close, evenly-matched game. Western played defensively by forcing the Lancers to shoot from outside and make turnovers. Windsor’s rebounding proved to be effective in the end, as they edged the Mustangs out in the fourth quarter.
🚨FINAL SCORE🚨The Mustangs lose against the Windsor lancers, we’ll get ‘em next time🐎🔥GAME RECAP🔥@_aryan9 25 points 3 rebs@tysondunn22 21 points 6 rebs@JerricPalma 14 points , 5 rebs , 3 assists@MatteoZagar 10 points, 4rebs#westernbasketball #RunWithUs pic.twitter.com/LkE5ij4ywy— Western Men's Basketball (@Mustangs_Bball) November 2, 2022
Fifth-year forward Aryan Sharma led the team with 25 points and two blocks, tying third-year guard Tyson Dunn for a team-high of two steals. Sharma also shot 10 for 19 from the field and was two for four from the three-point line.
The Mustangs started their second game of the season well. Western shot 68.75 per cent from the field in the first quarter.
M 🏀 FINALAryan Sharma was the highest scorer of the night for the Mustangs, and is the second highest scorer of the game, with 17pts. WES - 73WLU - 89#RunWithUs #WesternMustangs #WESvsWLU pic.twitter.com/hj1uayUxB8— Western Mustangs (@WesternMustangs) November 5, 2022
In a rematch of Western’s early playoff exit last year, the Mustangs’ field goal percentage dropped significantly to 30 per cent over the following two quarters as Western began to trail on the scoreboard.
Laurier’s depth and scoring off the bench made all the difference, defeating the Mustangs 89–73.
Fourth–year guard Jerric Palma remains optimistic about the Western’s season, emphasizing the importance of playing well as a team.
“We definitely have come out to a slow start this year going 0–2,” Palma said. “Our team is young this year and we’ve been working on succeeding on both ends of the floor. Our talent is definitely there, it's just a matter of putting all the pieces together and working more as a cohesive unit.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams will be back in action against the Algoma University Thunderbirds with doubleheaders this Friday and Saturday. The men’s team will be hoping to turn things around against the Thunderbirds, who are also winless through their first two games.
“[In] our first two games, we lost to two stronger divisional rival teams, but it’s a learning curve we are trying to get around,” Palma added. “Once we figure out all these things, there’s no doubt we’ll be back with a winning record.”