By Ian Shalapata
(WINDSOR, ON) – A larger than expected crowd was on hand to watch the University of Windsor Lancers men’s basketball squad play host to the visiting Indiana Purdue at Fort Wayne (IPFW) Mastodons at St Denis Fieldhouse yesterday evening. The Lancers prevailed 89-74 in the annual OUA-NCAA Tip-Off Classic , but the final score belayed a closer game.
The teams were tied 20-20 at the end of the first quarter as both units attempted to find their game form. The play was very scrappy with a number of missed passes on both sides, as well as sloppy defensive play. The Mastodons scored 18 points from turnovers, during the game, while Windsor dropped 17. Additionally, the Lancers scored 10 second chance points and IPFW responded with 12.
Windsor and IPFW battled in the second quarter with the Lancers pulling ahead only to find themselves down by two, 42-40, at the half. Partly to blame was the unobstructed looks IPFW was getting from outside as they went 44% from downtown.
Windsor finally found their footing in the third frame as they took a 14 point lead that they never relinquished. The Lancers raised their shooting from the floor to 51% and to an amazing 59% from outside the arc. Windsor was able to take the lessons learned in the first half and responded accordingly to shut down the visitors. The Lancers all but abandoned the inside game, scoring only 28 points from the paint while relying on the long-ball.
IPFW adjusted to the Lancers’ shift in momentum and kept the 4th quarter to a 23-22 Windsor advantage, but the damage had been done. The 3rd period breakdown may be partly attributable to playing the third of three games in six days on the road for IPFW. Mastodons coach Jon Coffman had the team bus four hours from Toronto to arrive shortly before tip-off, instead of arriving the night before, or even earlier in the day.
“We treated this a little differently,” Coffman told Tom Davis of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. “Physically, the guys were tired, and obviously your mind goes with that. But that was no excuse.”
For the Lancers’ part, practices started only a few days before Wednesday, and coach Chris Oliver played a short bench due to some players’ academic ineligibility.
“They have one exam left,” Oliver said. “They write this week, I think. They’ll be back in the line-up.”
Stepping up for Windsor was second year guard Mitch Farrell, from Brechin, ON, in his debut for the Blue and Gold. He scored 27 points while putting on an outside shooting clinic, going 7 for 9. He added 5 assists and 2 steals in 28 minutes on the hardwood.
Fourth year guard, and former Holy Names Knight, Rotimi Osuntola, Jr, dropped 17 points and added 7 rebounds to help pace Windsor. And Mississauga’s Khalid Abdel-Gabar contributed 15 points and 3 steals in the winning effort.
The Lancers will see their next pre-season action on September 20 when Humber College arrives for a 4:00 pm tip-off at St Denis Fieldhouse.