The McMaster men’s basketball team used a third-quarter explosion to defeat the Western Mustangs, 83-49, Saturday afternoon (Feb. 22) and advance to the Ontario University Athletics Final-Four. The Marauders last appeared in the conference championship series in 2012.
Western was ready to play on the heels of a playoff upset at Lakehead, and the Mustang game plan of slowing the tempo and going inside for high percentage shots gave McMaster some trouble in the first quarter. Western’s Eric McDonald hit a fall-away shot at the buzzer and the Mustangs held an 18-15 lead after 10 minutes.
Looking confident to start the second quarter, Western bumped the lead up to 24-17 and McMaster was still searching for answers. The Mustangs called a timeout with the seven-point lead, perhaps concerned about fatigue, but it allowed the Marauders to regroup. Coming out of the timeout, McMaster got seven straight points from Leon Alexander to tie the game. Trevon McNeil knocked down a three-pointer to give McMaster the lead and suddenly Western was hanging on. McMaster continued to harass the Mustangs on defence and ran the lead up to 31-24 at the intermission. From the time Western called timeout McMaster went on a 16-0 scoring run.
Now playing with the lead, McMaster opened the third quarter with baskets from Rohan Boney and Taylor Black to get the advantage into double figures. Aaron Redpath knocked down consecutive three-point shots and Western had no answer as the Maroon lead kept growing. The Marauders outscored Western 33-13 for the quarter to lead 64-37 heading to the final stanza.
The fourth quarter saw the Mac advantage get to over 30 and with five minutes left, Western started to clear the bench, with McMaster following suit. With the reserves for both sides getting some playing time, McMaster was able to win the quarter 19-12 and complete the 34-point victory.
As usual, McMaster had a very balanced attack, led by Taylor Black who scored 18 while grabbing 11 rebounds for the double-double. Aaron Redpath with 14, Leon Alexander with 13, and Trevon McNeil with 10 were other Marauders in double-figures. Top shooter for Western was Peter Scholtes with 16.
After a slow start, McMaster shot 63% from the floor in the second half to finish with an overall mark of 51% for the game. The Mustangs only made 31% of their field goal attempts. McMaster also won the battle of the boards 42-25.
The Marauders now advance to Friday night’s (Feb. 28) opening round of the OUA Final-Four at Ryerson’s Mattamy Centre. Game time and opponent are to be determined.