In the opening half, the Mustangs executed on offense and got the job done on defense. With 14 minutes left in the first half, the Gryphons’ defense couldn’t faze Kenneth Colosimo, who knocked down his second three-pointer of the night to extend Western’s lead to 10.
But Guelph’s offense eventually started to show some signs of life as Eric Malcolm hit a shot from beyond the arc. The Gryphons gained momentum by capitalizing on Western turnovers, cutting into the Mustangs’ lead and eventually taking a 32-32 tie into the half.
When asked what his team needed to do in the second half to finish off the Mustangs, Guelph head coach Chris O’Rourke said the Gryphons “just have to do a better job defensively. On offense, we have to execute.”
The Gryphons apparently followed their coach’s orders, coming out dominant in the second half and never looking back. Guelph managed to pull ahead and Western struggled to regain its lead, eventually succumbing to the visitors.
“It wasn’t a problem of ‘down the stretch.’We were flat and were completely outworked and outlasted in the second half,” said Mustangs head coach Brad Campbell of his team’s second-half struggles.
“They had 14 offensive boards in the second half — that’s why we lost,” Campbell added. “I mean, they shot 31 per cent in the second half. We had good defense but we just couldn’t rebound and we had trouble scoring at the offensive end.”
If there is a silver lining, it is that the future of Western’s men’s basketball seems to be in very good hands with such young talented players as Matthew Curtis, Alan Paron and Kenny Colosimo, who combined for 35 of the Mustangs’ 52 points.
Campbell was pleased with the performance of Paron, who had a team-leading 16 points on the night.
“He’s a fantastic player — a great talent for a rookie, but there’s nothing new there. The future looks good for the team,” Campbell said.
After the game, Paron was disappointed with the final result. “We let teams come back; we can’t let them do that,” he said. “Rebounding is all hustle — you just have to want it more than they do, but I guess we didn’t.”
With a record of 4-15, the Mustangs’ playoff aspirations are over. Three games remain this season, and the best Western can do is try to finish off the year on a positive note. If all goes according to plan, the Mustangs would like to finish off the season the same way they started it — with a win.