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Western Ends Season on a Sour Note, Lose Bronze Medal Match to UBC

Zach Friedman

The Mustangs will leave the nation’s capital empty handed after losing the bronze medal match of the USports Final 8 Tournament by a score of 99-82 at the hands of the Canada West Champion, UBC Thunderbirds.

            It was a hard fought game by the Mustangs, but in the end, their poor second half play, along with some short fuses, is what ultimately cost them the game.

            UBC guard Manroop Clair was unconscious in the game, shooting 12-21 from the field, and 6-12 from deep, ending his season – and his university career – with a game and tournament high 39 points. To go along with his 39 points, Clair also added 10 rebounds and 5 assists to his performance.

            As a team the Thunderbirds shot 46% from the field and made 12 of 32 from three, and an impressive 21 of 24 from the charity stripe.

            The game started well for the Thunderbirds coming out of the gate quickly, especially forward Grant Shephard, recording 6 points and 6 rebounds in the opening frame. At the end of the first quarter the T-Birds found themselves ahead 24-17.

            However, the second quarter was all Mustangs. Omar Shiddo finally hitting his stride from deep, hitting three in the quarter. Nikola Farkic was doing a great job running the offense contributing 5 assists in the first half. After a flawless second quarter, the Mustangs took a 45-41 lead into halftime.

            UBC coach Kevin Hanson must have given a Kurt Russell Miracle level speech because once the second half started; UBC recaptured the lead and never looked back. They were displaying dominance on both ends of the floor. Offensively, Manroop Clair scored 28 of his 39 points in the second half shooting 67% from the field. Defensively they held the Mustangs to just 37 points for the rest of the game, and it was the Thunderbirds who got to don the bronze medals.

            For the Mustangs, a disappointing end to their season, and to add another level of loss, Eriq Jenkins and Nikola Farkic have now played their final games in a Western Mustangs uniform, a large hole in the Mustangs backcourt that will be extremely difficult to fill. Another issue area the Mustangs need to tackle this offseason is their height, or better yet, their lack of height. Their tallest player on their roster this past season is 6”7 Julian Walker. He was sidelined for the Final 8 tournament with the flu so the Mustangs were even smaller on the inside. The Mustangs finished the season with a rebounding margin per game of -0.5, against the Thunderbirds Sunday afternoon, -24 on the glass.

            A lot to improve on for the upcoming season, and Mustangs head coach Brad Campbell is up to the challenge, but in the grand scheme of things, 4th in the country is quite the accomplishment.