Mountaineers topple defending hoops champs


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Mohawk’s Alex Reis splits two Vanier Cheetahs. (Photo: Kirk Saint)

Andrew Cicuttini scored 34 points and added 11 rebounds to lead the No. 4 seeded Mohawk Mountaineers to a 101-96 victory over the 5th ranked Vanier Cheetahs in their opening game of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship in Truro, Nova Scotia on Thursday (March 15).

Mohawk, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association champions, got off to a bright start against the reigning champions from Montreal and led 28-20 after the first quarter.

In the second period the Mountaineers led by 11 points a couple of times, but the Cheetahs would not go away. In fact they battled back and could have led at half time had they not missed a layup at the buzzer. Mohawk went to the dressing room ahead 54-53.

Very early in the third quarter, Vanier took their first and what turned out to be their only lead (57-56). But Mohawk responded with a 7-0 run and after some key turnovers late in the quarter and a three-pointer by Jeff Hunt gave the Mountaineers a 76-66 lead at three quarter time.

Mohawk increased its margin to 13 points (87-74) with about seven minutes remaining and appeared to have the game in hand, but Vanier came charging back again.

Mohawk big man Taylor Dowhaniuk fouled out of the game with just under four minutes to go, but Vanier had three starters foul out and a couple of injuries which did not help them in the latter stages of the game.

Vanier narrowed the deficit to 98-96 in the final minute, but Mountaineer All-Canadian Amino Bello sank three free throws to complete the scoring.

Cicuttini, who was Mohawk’s player of the game, told SportsCanada.TV that the Mountaineers find ways to win.

“We just kept playing hard,” said Cicuttini. “It’s a do-or-die situation. We are all hungry to get the first national (men’s basketball) championship in the school’s history.”

The Mountaineers now meet the top seeded team, the University of Northern British Columbia, Friday at 6 p.m. UNBC downed Red Deer College of Alberta, 88-65 in the championship curtain-raiser.

All games in the championship tournament are streamed at:
http://ccaamensbasketball2012.ca/

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