For much of the season, the Western Mustangs men's basketball team has found success in winning ugly and tight affairs. That all changed on Wednesday night at Alumni Hall, as Western produced offensively unlike they have all season, en route to their most dominating victory of the season.
The Western Mustangs headed into their home date with the Guelph Gryphons looking for their fourth straight win. They left the evening with a convincing 99–80 victory, improving their overall record to 9–6 and further signifying that their resurgence this season is no fluke.
The contest started out close, as the two teams, at opposite ends of the Ontario University Athletics standings, traded baskets. The Mustangs held a 22–20 lead after the first quarter thanks to early production from Henry Tan, who had eight points in the opening frame.
The second quarter saw more of the same, as the Gryphons and Mustangs exchanged leads. Marko Kovac hit back-to-back three pointers early in the second quarter, as the transfer from Windsor continued his dominant second half of the season. Eriq Jenkins got into the action in the first half as well, as a 7–0 personal run put the Mustangs up 46–36 late in the second quarter.
The Mustangs managed to take control of the game midway through the second quarter thanks to a 51.2 per cent performance from the field and 53.8 shooting from beyond the arc. The Mustangs big three of Tan, Jenkins and Kovac combined for 41 points in the first half.
"I think we did a good job of executing on offence, trying to get into the paint, either finishing for myself or getting it to my teammates," said Tan on his, and the team's, performance. "I'm just doing what I can off the bench and taking what the defence gives me. Today we did a good job of rebounding, me getting on transition and doing what I do best."
The third quarter saw more of the same as the Mustangs continued extending their lead, largely due to a barrage of three pointers for the purple and white. Western held an 84–54 lead after 30 minutes of play and wouldn't look back.
The Mustangs played their best offensive game of the year, shooting 48 per cent from the field and 69 per cent from the three point line while holding the Gryphons to 46 per cent shooting and a 30 per cent performance from three. The Mustangs also won the rebounding battle 49–34.
"I think what you saw there is when we can make some shots, set our defence, and take care of rebounding," said Mustangs head coach Brad Campbell. "We're trying to penetrate and get to the middle, and got some good kick outs and looks, and today we were a little more confident and shot the ball well."
Eriq Jenkins led all scorers with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, while Kovac and Tan added 19 and 17 points apiece. Chris Clegg also had a standout performance with nine points and 16 boards.
For the Mustangs, their next game will be on Jan. 19 as they host the McMaster Marauders.