The Western Mustangs men's basketball season of heartbreak continued on Saturday afternoon.
Their road matchup with the Waterloo Warriors was supposed to be the game to get the team back on track after a double overtime loss to the Laurier Golden Hawks that saw the Mustangs miss two easy layups that would have won the game.
The Warriors were supposed to be the perfect opponent to face in order to turn the Mustangs season around. But as Waterloo's Ben Davis hit a shot with time expiring in the fourth quarter, the Mustangs fell to 1–5 in what has become routine difficult defeats for head coach Brad Campbell's squad.
The Mustangs keep finding ways to lose games. An 82–81 loss to Waterloo might be the most difficult of them all.
For captain Eric McDonald, the only fourth-year on the team and one of the squad's co-captains, the Mustangs' struggles have been difficult to watch on the bench. He's been out of the lineup with an injury since Nov. 12.
"It's been unbelievably hard to watch the start of this season from the bench," said McDonald. "This isn't how I imagined my last year would be going but it's letting me work on being more of a vocal leader and seeing things a little differently than I would if I was on the court."
"It's tough to stay patient and wait for my time to get back out there," he added. "I can't wait to get back on the court, this has been incredibly frustrating."
Again the Mustangs found an offensive spark from Eriq Jenkins who has been outstanding as the go-to scorer for a team that lost its program cornerstone and all-time leading scorer in Greg Morrow after last season.
Jenkins had 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five steals in the Mustangs' losing effort. He has been lethal offensively throughout the year, averaging 17.8 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Along with Jenkins, Jedson Tavernier scored 14 points against Waterloo on 55 per cent shooting for the Mustangs. Tavernier, currently in his third year of college basketball, is frustrated but also optimistic that the team can begin playing with a chip on their shoulder.
"I do feel optimistic about the remainder of the season because I know that once we clean a few things up we will be able to finish these games and get some W's," said Tavernier. "I think that being so close and having things go wrong in the final moments of games makes our team hungrier and willing to do whatever it takes to get over this hump."
While it's easier said than done, losing the first and fourth quarters to the Warriors shows how difficult it is for the Mustangs to put together a full 40-minute effort.
"We're starting to execute a little better on offence which is a good sign so we just have to continue to work on the little details that will help create a bigger lead at the end of the game so we're not constantly fighting for a win in the last minutes of the game," said McDonald about what it will take for the Mustangs to turn their season around.
"We're a young team and we're learning the hard way but we have to focus for four full quarters to win in this league."