Adnan Begovic hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:51 remaining as the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks stunned the No. 8-ranked Lakehead Thunderwolves 68-64 in a do-or-die OUA men’s basketball quarterfinal on Saturday in front of a packed house at C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse.
Ali Sow scored a game-high 27 points for the Golden Hawks, who had won five of their seven regular season contests to get into the playoffs. They had defeated Queen’s in the first round on Wednesday before heading to Thunder Bay.
Laoui Msambya was Lakehead’s top scorer with 19 points. Lock Lam added 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. The Thunderwolves shot just 22.2 per cent from the floor in the pivotal fourth quarter. LU held a three-point lead entering the final quarter.
Top scorer Isaiah Traylor was held to just 11 points — just half of his season average — on 2-for-12 shooting from the floor.
“They did a good job at making us play at their pace which for the most part we haven’t let teams do,” said Thunderwolves coach Ryan Thomson, who completed his second full season with the team.
Thomson said the players will reflect on what was a successful season in the near future — but the pain of losing was in full effect on Saturday night. However, the program’s rebuild is on the right track. The Thunderwolves (17-6) won the Central Division and were a regular in the national top-10 rankings since November.
The OUA semifinals are now set. Laurier will meet Western while the defending USPORTS champion Carleton Ravens battle the Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Canadian championship tournament will be held in Ottawa next month.
Traylor said next season looks promising for the Thunderwolves without him.
(Outside) the three seniors, everyone else is young," he said. "First- and second-year guys. This league and USPORTS, they’re in for something big for the next few years. The fans, everything, were amazing. This whole year. I appreciate everything.”