Hamilton, ON- A week after McMaster Marauders men’s basketball head coach Patrick Tatham talked about the team’s need for better defence and rebounding, the Marauders showed it against the St. Francis Xavier (St.FX) X-Men.
The Marauders trailed 24-21 after the first quarter in a close game but won the second quarter 28-17. McMaster kept the lead and withstood St.FX’s runs for the 85-73 victory. It marked their first home win of the season after losing their home opener to the Laval Rouge et Or the previous week.
“A way better defensive effort today,” Tatham said. “I thought the guys played with a sense of urgency from…tipoff until the end of the game.”
The Marauders were facing a tough team in St.FX. A team that is hosting nationals this year. A team featuring Scarborough Shooting Stars guard David Muenkat – who had 28 points, eight rebounds and four assists – and a deep supporting cast. A team that defeated the Laurier Golden Hawks and Guelph Gryphons this preseason.
McMaster clamped down defensively. After the X-Men shot 62.5 per cent in the first quarter, they shot 35.71, 28.57 and 33.33 per cent the other three quarters.
The home team outshot them from the field (51.8 to 40.3 per cent) and from three (41.4 to 32 per cent). They also out-rebounded them 31-28.
Whenever the X-Men would put together a string of points, McMaster answered – keeping the lead around double digits. Tatham talked to his team about the fact that both teams will make runs. “We understand that this game is going to have implications further down into the future,” Tatham said. “So let’s just be at our best and the guys responded.”
Guard Mike Demagus said their game plan involved locking in on defence. It involves talking about what they need to do every game. They knew St.FX is a good defensive rebounding team and they focused on locking in on defensive rebounds, according to him. The Marauders finished with 26 defensive rebounds to the X-Men’s eight offensive boards.
When St.FX made their runs, the Marauders stayed true to themselves. “We didn’t fumble. We stayed consistent. We didn’t get fazed. We just stayed to our game,” Demagus noted.
Multiple players made their mark – especially on the glass. Seneca College transfer Khalil Miller notched 14 points and six rebounds. Sefa Otchere had 13 points and eight rebounds. Mychael Paulo had nine points and five assists while forward Nathan Charles had four points and seven rebounds.
Second-year guard Ay Osunde led all players with three steals. Demagus led all players with 31 points, including four rebounds. He scored in transition, inside and outside. He shot nine-for-13 from the field (including four-for-seven from three) and hit nine of his ten free throws.
“Staying true to my game. Shooting open shots, attacking the basket,” Demagus said. “I had a bad game last game but I just kept it consistent and stayed aggressive for this game.”
The fourth-year Scarborough native is coming off a breakthrough 2021-22 season where he averaged 13.7 points and 4.7 rebounds. He was named an OUA West second-team all-star and returns as an important player for McMaster.
“He showcased his ability to make shots,” Tatham noted. He pointed to Demagus’ performance against the Oregon Ducks, where he scored 16 points, as another example of that. “Happy for him but what I want is consistency so we’ll see,” Tatham added.
The team will look for consistency as they push forward in the preseason. Can they carry that defensive and rebounding performance against St.FX into their upcoming games? They’ll be tested by some quality competition.
The Marauders host the Mount Royal Cougars on Oct 12. before heading off to Ottawa for the House-Laughton tournament, where they’ll face Victoria Vikes, Carleton Ravens and Concordia Stingers. The Ravens are the reigning national champions while the Vikes are the reigning Canada West champion. The Stingers are RSEQ finalists.
Demagus said the team’s goal is to go to nationals and win it all. They’ve defeated a team in St.FX that will be at the Final 8. Tatham said he wants the preseason to be hard so the team can see where they’re at before the regular season begins.
“It tells you where you want to be at if you want to get to that final stage – which is nationals,” he noted. “Getting it early in October will set that standard for us in November and December and January, February to understand where we need to be at. So I’m glad we got this one today but we’ve got a couple more next week.”
Featured Image: Rick Zazulak/McMaster Athletics