It came down to a shot at the charity stripe as the Western Mustangs edged McMaster 82-81 at Alumni Hall on Feb. 23 in the Ontario University Athletics basketball West quarterfinal, ending the Marauders season.
Western advances against the Windsor Lancers in the West semi-final on Feb. 27 at 8 p.m.
Tyrell Vernon (Hamilton) led McMaster with 15 points, while Andrew Losier (Waterdown) and Terry Licorish (Toronto) had 13 each. Licorish added 11 boards for the double-double.
Mouctar Diaby (Hamilton) had 11 points but played in foul trouble through much of the second half.
Brad Smith (Churchill, Ont.) led Western with 21 points while Andy Wedemire (Sarnia) added 16 points – 13 of those coming in the third quarter.
Losier opened the scoring but Western recovered to open up with a 6-2 lead thanks in large part to the aggressive offensive play of Western’s star guard Matt Curtis (Hamilton).
Sarnia native Jason Milliquet nailed a three and made it 9-4 Western after McMaster had picked up three team fouls just over three minutes in.
The Mustangs looked in control early, picking up a15-7 lead midway through the first. Western was playing very well defensively, but their high frequency of turnovers in the offensive zone limited their ability to blow the game open.
A Vernon three pulled the Marauders within four before Smith made it a six-point Western lead after the opening quarter, 25-19.
Milliquet hit an unbelievable three to give Western a nine-point lead on the first shot of the second quarter.
Smith had 12 of the Mustangs first 30 points and 19 of their first 39.
Jason Scully (Burlington), who had been previously silent, nailed a trey to give Mac their first lead since the opening minute at 40-39. Scully’s second three in the final 10 seconds gave McMaster a 45-44 lead.
Losier scored the first points of the second half, hitting a debatable three-pointer to give the Marauders the four-point edge, eventually building an eight-point lead, 54-46.
Then Wedemire woke up, like an angry lion awakened suddenly, hitting a three to pull Western within five. He then hit one from the line, and then a barreled in with a layup to pull Western within four.
Diaby and Licorish both had three fouls early in the third.
Midway through the third, the Mustangs had three consecutive offensive possessions without points But McMaster could not capitalize as they only led by six, 60-54 late in the third.
It cost them.
Western got into the bonus late in the third period, and Wedemire hit both from the charity stripe to tie the game at 60. He had 13 points in the third quarter and several key boards.
Off a Wedemire rebound in the defensive zone, Milliquet hit a thiree to make it 63-60 and shift the momentum and Wedemire hit one late from the line.
The score was 64-60 Western after three.
In the fourth, Milliquet hit another three to put Western up five 69-65 with just over seven minutes remaining. But both teams missed key shots, most of Western’s miscues coming from three-point range. With just 3:05 left, McMaster called a timeout, presumably to rest their big-men Licorish and Diaby. Western led 78-76.
A Vernon three gave McMaster their first lead of the fourth at 79-78. Then Wedemire missed his second consecutive three-point look with just over two minutes left. A Licorish jam made it 81-78 McMaster, and then he blocked Curtis to five Mac the valuable possession.
It looked like Mac was in control. But a turnover from fourth-year forward Joe Polizzi gave Western another opportunity with 1:26 left.
After several misses on the offensive possession, De Costa was called on the charge and Western with 30 seconds left. Milliquet hit a three to tie the game with 22.9 seconds remaining. He finished with 18 points, all on three-pointers. With Mac getting the ball at half court, Vernon set up the play from the point, playing for last shot. But a huge foul call on Diaby on a push on Brzozowicz gave the Chicago, Illinois, native a chance to win the game at the line.
With 3.9 seconds left, Brzozowicz missed his first but hit his second on the line. In the dying seconds, Vernon missed a tough shot and Western advanced with an 82-81 win.