ALEXANDRA HU/THE VARSITY

Following a tight defeat for the women’s team, the Varsity Blues men’s basketball team took to the court on Friday evening aiming to fell the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks and claim their fourth win of the season.

As the opening festivities wrapped up and the cheerleaders vacated the playing space, Toronto geared up for battle against a purple and gold-clad Laurier team that had lost a tight 77–76 decision to the Queen’s Gaels the week before.

The Blues ended the first quarter with a resounding 27–14 score. Guard trio Jawara Pedican, Reilly Reid, and Nikola Paradina dominated proceedings, claiming seven, nine, and five points respectively. Each would also claim a three, as would fellow guards Christopher Barrett and Chase Ruttenberg. During the quarter, the Blues earned a 17-point uncontested run and outclassed the Golden Hawks.

The tides slowly turned in the second quarter, and despite the Blues being ahead by 10 points at around the halfway mark, Laurier went on to earn their own 14-point uncontested run.

Second-year Laurier guard Tevaun Kokko posted impressive stats in the quarter with 14 points. Toronto succumbed to a 29–15 quarter, which meant Laurier entered the second half with a slim 43–42 lead.

The third quarter began slowly as both teams returned to the court, before Reid and Paradina combined to propel the Blues into a dominating lead. A lethargic Laurier had no response to the rampant duo, who claimed 21 points and eight rebounds in the quarter between them.

As the quarter progressed, Toronto found rhythm, moving the ball around more deftly as Laurier were plagued with sloppy defending and poor forward movement. The Blues posted a 50 per cent shooting record from the field while restricting Laurier to just 30 per cent.

Pulling a 70–56 lead into the fourth quarter, the Blues were content with seeing out the victory. Both teams had similar control of the ball and, for the first time in the game, neither went on strong runs. Reid’s influence never waned however, as the Blues stayed true to their course and restricted Laurier to an 18–16 final quarter.

Reid led the Blues with a career-high 24 points, adding seven rebounds, with Paradina trailing closely behind with his own career-high 23 points and 12 rebounds. Laurier’s Kokko led the night with 25 points but was likely disappointed that his team were overmatched by Toronto’s physical play on the night.

The victory pushed the Blues to a 4-3 regular season record, occupying sixth place in the OUA eastern conference standings.

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