Basketball Marauders hold underdogs at bay

The Waterloo Warriors put up a fight, but it was the McMaster men’s basketball team that was left standing at the end, as the Marauders took an 82-60 decision to advance in the Ontario University Athletics playoffs.

Photo: Rick Zazulak/McMaster Athletics

Returning to the post season for the first time in three years, Waterloo embraced its underdog role and opened the game by grabbing a 9-2 lead. Not wanting to let the game get away early, the Marauders quickly regrouped and outscored the Warriors, 17-2, over the rest of the quarter to lead 19-11 after one.

In a game where the officials would “let them play”, the Warriors took advantage in the second quarter by playing very physical defense and getting some long range shooting from Jaspreet Gill to win the quarter and narrow the Mac advantage to 32-28 by halftime. The only offensive spark for the Marauders came from Joe Rocca, who scored 14 points in the first half.

The third quarter saw the Marauders score first, but the Warriors got as close as they would all game with two baskets to get within two points at 34-32. It was Joe Rocca who then drained a long three to restore some breathing space and the Marauders slowly began to build the lead.

Waterloo guard Wells Davis went down with a leg injury midway through the quarter, taking one of the Warriors’ starters off the floor for the rest of the game. After three quarters, the Mac lead stood at 49-39.

In the fourth, Gill did his best to close the gap as he hit two long treys to bring Waterloo within six points at 51-45. But it seemed like every time Waterloo saw some life, Rocca would snatch it away. The second-year shooter from Sarnia nailed a long three-pointer and then completed a four-point play as he made a trey and was fouled in the act. That took some wind out of the Waterloo sails and when Adam Presutti and Nate Pelech made three-point shots on the next two Maroon possessions, the Warriors could not recover from the long-range barrage.

Rocca finished with 27 points to nab BIG MAC player of the game status, shooting 6 of 11 from beyond the arc. Nathan McCarthy had a double-double of 14 points and 11 boards, while Taylor Black added 13. The Marauder point guards did a fine job distributing as Presutti had 11 assists and Aaron Redpath dished out nine. For Waterloo, Gill had 21 and Mike Helsby added 10.

The Marauders now head to Thunder Bay to face Lakehead in the OUA West semi-finals on Saturday (Feb. 23) at 7 p.m.