Basketball vs Brock

Eric McDonald handles the ball against the Brock Badgers on Wednesday night.

With the Ontario University Athletics men's basketball season coming to a close, the Western Mustangs suffered another loss, falling 65–80 to the Brock Badgers on Wednesday night at Alumni Hall.

The loss dropped the Mustangs to 6–13 while the Badgers won their ninth straight game to improve to 14–4 on the season. 

The Mustangs kept it close for much of the game, despite a challenging offensive night that saw Western shoot 32.3 per cent from the field and 25 per cent from the three point line.

But those offensive woes proved insurmountable against a Brock team that out rebounded the Mustangs 46–26 while outscoring Western 28–18 in the paint.

For Mustangs head coach Brad Campbell, the loss was another blown shot at salvaging a far-fetched chance at a playoff berth.

"That game was there for the taking," said Campbell. "We just couldn't really emerge or do anything and put back-to-back offensive possessions together to really cut into things. We had our opportunities, we just couldn't get over the hump, offensively."

It's been the story of the Mustangs season, one that was expected to be a rebuilding year for a program with only one fourth-year player.

So many times this season Western exceeded expectations. Omar Shiddo has emerged as one of the top freshman in the nation, an explosive volume shooter who can create offence off the dribble. Shiddo tied Brad Campbell's Mustangs single game scoring record with 36 points on Feb. 11 against Laurier. He then led the team with 17 points in the loss to Brock.

Eriq Jenkins proved throughout the season that he can be a cornerstone piece for the program moving forward with a game marked by defensive intensity and offensive creativity.

Big men Ian Smart and Alex Otzyv also showed steady improvement throughout the season. Smart has averaged 10.6 points in the last six games and will be a pivotal piece of the puzzle next season.

And with Nik Farkic and Jedson Tavernier returning next season, the Mustangs could take a big step back towards contention in 2017–18.

But this season has been marked by inconsistency, which came to fruition again in the loss to Brock. 

"Anytime we got any momentum we would shoot ourselves in the foot," said Campbell. "We'd turn it over or not grab a rebound and if we got a bit of momentum, we just couldn't turn the corner to get that big run that we needed. We just hurt ourselves a lot there."

The Mustangs have one more game to play this season, a home date with the McMaster Marauders. On paper the game has little significance for the standings, with the Marauders firmly in a playoff spot and the Mustangs playing exclusively for pride.

But it will also be Senior Day for the only senior on the Western roster. Co-captain Eric McDonald will be honoured for his contributions to the program, while his teammates will fight to get him a win in his final game wearing the purple and white.

"It’s hard to believe that it’s finally my senior night on Saturday," said McDonald. "I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights leading up to this weekend so there’s definitely a lot of emotions. A lot of it has been reflecting on what I’ve been through since I’ve been here and all the people that have helped me get to this senior night, because it’s definitely a big accomplishment that not everybody makes it to."
McDonald, who has provided much needed leadership for this season's young Mustangs squad, has been an invaluable part of the program since his arrival.
It's safe to say that without a mature, consistent leadership voice inside the locker room like McDonald's, this season could have gone much differently. But he's humble and thankful for the opportunity given him at Western.
"I wouldn’t have made it to my senior night if it weren’t for my family, friends, teammates, coaches, trainers, physiotherapists and support from the school so I owe a lot to them," said McDonald. "At the end of the day they’re supposed to be celebrating my last game and my career here, but I want to make sure everyone who’s helped me along the way knows how thankful I am for their support during my time at Western."

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