Hamilton, ON- After their home opener win against the York Lions, McMaster Marauders men’s basketball head coach Patrick Tatham talked about getting through the “storm” of their opening stretch.
With games against Carleton and Ottawa already under their belt, the Marauders hosted the defending OUA finalist Queen’s Gaels on Nov. 13. On Sunday afternoon at the Burridge Gym, McMaster found themselves in the eye of the storm.
A close first quarter ended with the Marauders being up 18-17. McMaster had balanced scoring with baskets by Sefa Otchere, Khalil Miller, Nathan Charles, Tyler Garcia, Tristan Lindo, Steven Japundzic and Mychael Paulo all in the first 10 minutes.
The game was close throughout the second quarter before the Gaels started to pull away. They outscored the Marauders 27-19 in that quarter and 22-8 in the third. They led by as many as 25 points late in the fourth quarter and in the end finished with the 79-65 win.
“Queen’s just played absolutely way harder,” Tatham noted. “On offence, on defence. Everything. We didn’t implement the game plan 100 per cent and we have to pay for that.”
The head coach said the plan going in was to contain brothers Cole and Luka Syllas. Cole finished with a team-high 16 points (tied with forward Michael Kelvin) and eight rebounds while Luka had 12 points and six rebounds.
“Once they got a little bit of confidence in the first half, they got it rolling in the second half,” Tatham added.
The teams traded baskets all the way until almost the end of the second quarter. Then, the visitors went on a 6-2 to close out the half, with free throws by Luka Syllas and Connor O’Keefe.
Once the second half started, Queen’s continued to score in the paint. The Syllas brothers scored while Kelvin also scored inside. Suddenly, a 38-35 game turned into a 54-39 one.
Kelvin had a few dunks in the paint as well that brought the Queen’s bench to its feet. After Cole Syllas scored again in the paint and McMaster guard Mike Demagus missed a three, the third quarter ended with the Gaels up 66-45.
Tatham pointed to a trend in his team’s losses: rebounding. In games against Laval, Victoria, Carleton, Ottawa and others, they’ve lost the rebounding battle and the game.
Queen’s had 37 rebounds (including 10 offensive boards) to their 30. Kelvin finished with a game-high nine boards.
“The only thing that we can really do is try to showcase it on film and hopefully drive a little bit more attention to detail in terms of rebounding in practices,” Tatham said. “That’s strictly focus and effort and I don’t think we had it [for] 40 minutes tonight.”
The Marauders ended up outscoring the Gaels 20-13 in the final quarter but it wasn’t enough as they lost 79-65. Miller and Garcia led the team with 11 points apiece. McMaster shot 39.3 per cent from the field and 22.7 per cent from three. They also shot 52.9 per cent from the free throw line.
Tatham noted how they played too much on one side offensively while Queen’s was making their third quarter run. It allowed the Gaels to load up their defence on one side.
“Ultimately, you have to be willing to trust the pass, move the ball,” he added.
The Marauders are now 1-3 to start the regular season. They still have games against TMU and defending OUA champion Brock coming up as well as two road games against Lakehead.
These are the level of opponents McMaster will be facing on their road to making nationals. Tatham called the stretch very helpful.
“This is what we’re going to have to go through,” he said. “It is expected this is going to happen. Rather it happen now than happen later. So, I just think this is all sharpening us for the end of the first half and going into the second half but we’ll see. Only time will tell.”
Featured Image: Marisa Settimi/McMaster Athletics