U of T was looking forward to a winning start from its basketball teams, but was disappointed over the weekend. The Varsity Blues lost their home and season openers to the McMaster Marauders, despite the optimism and anticipation leading up to the start of the 2002-2003 men and women’s basketball season.

The men, who were coming off a close loss to Lakehead on Friday night (78-74), were in the running against a tough McMaster team, whose depth and inside play eventually ran down the Blues.

Blues rookie head coach Mike Dodig said the Blues’ defeat lay in their failure to stop the Marauder’s strong offence.

“We had to stop their forward, Graham Hewitt,” said a disappointed Dodig after the game. The Blues were unable to shut down Hewitt, who victimized the Blues, leading all scorers with 24 points in the game.

Saturday’s game was aggressive from the outset, with both teams going on extended runs. U of T looked good at times, with some crisp passing and aggressive rebounding. In the second half, both teams started off strong once again, trading leads several times. Then, in the dying moments of the game, the wheels came off for the men’s team. McMaster’s tough inside play wore down the Blues and in the final two minutes, the Marauders pulled away with an 82-75 victory.

The loss puts the Blues in a 0-2 hole to start the season, but there is a sense of optimism about this team. Key players are stepping up, such as veteran guard Paul Zyla, who led the team in scoring with 15 points.

In game two on Saturday, the Blues women’s basketball team also took on the Marauders. The defending provincial champs have a huge bull’s eye painted on their chests, as all the other OUA teams are set on usurping their title. But the Blues are looking forward to defending their place as top dogs in the OUA.

U of T’s women opened their season with an impressive win Friday night versus Lakehead. They took the game decisively, winning 89-51. The Marauders, however, proved much tougher.

McMaster took it to the Blues, who came out flat, to the dismay of the many fans in attendance. They failed to stop the sharp shooting of the McMaster guards, who scorched U of T for 41 of the team’s 72 total points.

Blues guard Vanessa Nobrega led the team in scoring with 19 while rookie forward Kaila MacAlpine chipped in with 13 points. Although the Blues don’t seem to be having trouble scoring, they have to tighten up defensively if they are to repeat the successes of last year.

Both the men’s and women’s squads will hit the road for their next game on November 15 versus the Windsor Lancers.

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