The University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s basketball team returned home from Nationals with a fifth place finish. Following the team’s bronze medal at the Canada West championships, they received an at-large bid to appear in the National Championship in Ottawa, Ont.
The tournament features eight of Canada’s top university basketball teams competing to be named best in the country. This year’s tournament featured the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, University of McGill, McMaster University, Saint Mary’s University, University of Alberta, University of Victoria and our very own Huskies.
The Dogs drew a tough first round matchup as they took on the number one seeded Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Huskies kept it close against Ottawa and trailed 43-40 at the half. Stephon Lamar had 12 points in the first half as well as five assists. The Huskies shot an impressive 44 per cent from the field and seemed poised for the upset, but things fell apart in the second half.
The Gee-Gees outscored the Huskies by five points in the third quarter and then by 13 points in final frame as Ottawa advanced with a 94-73 victory.
Matt Forbes had a huge second half as he pulled down eight rebounds and scored 11 points on 5-6 shooting. He finished with a double double in the game with 18 points and 10 rebounds. As a team, the Huskies shot a disappointing 32 per cent in the second half. Rookie Alex Unruh chipped in four points in four minutes off the bench.
The Huskies were then moved to the consolation side of the bracket, where they played the fifth seeded McGill Redmen. The Huskies used a dominant first quarter to take control of the game and upset the Redmen 75-59.
The Huskies shot an astounding 62 per cent in the first half and were led by Lamar and Forbes, who both recorded double figures. McGill shot an abysmal 21 per cent and found themselves in a big hole, down by 19 points at the half.
The second half saw McGill make a small run and close the gap to 13, but that is as close as they would get.
Lamar added 12 more points in the second half to finish with 25 and was awarded player of the game for his efforts. The Huskies defence was solid as they held the Redmen to just 59 points and 27 per cent shooting in the contest.
The win gave the Dogs a 1-1 record at nationals and a fifth place finish. The Carleton Ravens went on to win the title for the third consecutive time, defeating Ottawa 79-67 in the final.
The Huskies entire roster is eligible to return next season and Stephon Lamar is very optimistic about their chances.
“I most definitely think we have another shot at another title,” Lamar said to Carleton University Athletics after the win over McGill.
Head coach Barry Rawlyk was proud of his team’s efforts.
“These are tough games to be playing in and you always wonder about the psyche of that whole thing, but at the end of the day it’s our last game of the season and we wanted to come out and obviously as well as we could,” he said.
The Dogs ended the season with a 28-11 record overall — the second best finish in team history.
Photo: Valerie Wutti