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Wolves often hunt in packs, and boy oh boy were the Thunderwolves stalking their prey last night.
The Lakehead University men’s basketball team hosted the Windsor Lancers in an OUA playoff first-round matchup last night in a single-elimination game. The Thunderwolves came into it looking to build on a nine-game win streak, including two straight against the Lancers less than two weeks prior.
After a number of quick lead changes to open the match, Thunderwolves guard Jared Kreiner hit a three halfway through the first quarter to pull ahead, and Lakehead never looked back.
“It was a good team win,” Thunderwolves head coach Ryan Thomson said. “I’m proud of the guys for their urgency and discipline on both ends tonight.”
Lakehead’s squad took an 18-11 lead into the second quarter after five different players notched the scoring column in the first, and the second was more of the same. At half, the Thunderwolves lead was 51-33.
The Lancers looked to rebound in the third, but it was only more of the same—Kreiner, the man with the golden gun, picked up 13 more points on 5-7 shooting, including three deep bombs. Dylan Morrison picked up six points of his own and added an emphatic block to punctuate the effort.
After three quarters, the score favoured the Thunderwolves by a staggering margin of 36 points. When it was all said and done, Lakehead officially moved on to the next round, having picked up a 101-77 win.
“It was good for them to get a win in such a great atmosphere,” Thomson said.
The packed Thunderdome offered an excellent arena for the home win, as roaring crowd bore down on the visiting Lancers—from tip to final buzzer the Windsor squad took their timeouts nearly at center court in an effort to escape the crowd noise.
Jared Kreiner led all scorers with 26, while Laoui Msambya added 18 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals. Michael Okafor added 13 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. Six different Thunderwolves scored in double digits and seven collected four or more rebounds.
The playoff win brings Lakehead’s overall USports record to 16-5 on the year, still undefeated in 2022. The Thunderwolves will next face the McMaster Marauders in Hamilton on Saturday, March 19th in the OUA Quarterfinal matchup.
“We’re looking ahead to McMaster,” Thomson said after the game. “They’re as talented a team as there is in the conference with Jordan Henry, Mike Demagus and Mychael Paulo.”
The Thunderwolves and Marauders met twice to open the OUA season all the way back in the first weekend of November, with each team emerging with a win and a loss. Jordan Henry scored 60 combined points in the two games.
Both teams finished the OUA regular season with 11-5 records, but McMaster earned the 2 seed by virtue of winning the points battle in their November weekend split.
Regardless, the Thunderwolves will head to Hamilton coming off a dominant performance and eager to continue their win streak. McMaster will enter the game following their first-round bye, coming off a win in a split weekend with the Laurier Golden Hawks.
“We have to be prepared to defend, scramble and communicate for 40 minutes, while taking great shots offensively,” Thomson said.
The game tips at 7:00pm on Saturday, March 19th, and will be available via OUA.tv.