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Blues basketball teams go 1–1 in doubleheader against Lions

Women lose a close contest, men win handily
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Although the women's team lost, the men's team boosted morale with a win. COURTESY OF HENRY ZHAO/VARSITY BLUES
Although the women's team lost, the men's team boosted morale with a win. COURTESY OF HENRY ZHAO/VARSITY BLUES

Women’s team

The Varsity Blues women’s basketball team lost a heartbreaking 52–47 decision to the York Lions on November 15, dropping their fifth straight game of the season to their cross-town rivals.

The match was tight right from the opening tipoff, with both teams using their physicality and speed to force turnovers and errant passes.

York drew first blood with a pair of free throws, but Toronto stormed back, ending the first quarter with a score of 13–10, thanks to a pair of three-pointers from standouts Christine Jurcau and Ellen Ougrinov.

The physicality match continued into the second quarter, with Blues veteran Sarah Bennett using her speed and ball-handling skills to force York to foul in their attempts to defend from her. The Lions struggled to contain Bennett, as she went on to score a team-leading 18 points. Rookie Nakeisha Ekwandja was all over the court, scooping up six defensive rebounds throughout the game. The Blues ended the first half with a six-point lead.

As the second half wore on, it was evident that both teams were growing tired from the chippy style of play. Numerous players from both teams hit the deck, sacrificing their bodies in desperate attempts to gain their team precious points. The Blues saw their lead diminish to a mere two points by the end of the third quarter, despite the tenacious play from Bennett and Samantha Robertson. York began to roar to life toward the end, peppering Toronto with scoring attempts and capitalizing on their free throws.

Unfortunately, the Lions’ upward swing was too much for the Blues to overcome in the fourth quarter. York gained their first lead of the game with seven minutes left on the clock and eventually pulled away to win the match.

It was evident from the game that the Blues’ last-place standing in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Centre conference is not reflective of their abilities. Despite the lackluster fourth quarter, the Blues displayed impressive skill and heart, and showed great potential for improvement over the course of the season. The Blues will return home to face the McMaster Marauders on November 30 — hopefully with a win in their pocket.


Men’s team

The Varsity Blues men’s basketball team showed off their shooting skills on Friday as they trounced the York Lions 95–81. The win moved Toronto up to a 2–3 record, while keeping York firmly at the bottom of the OUA conference table.

Despite the final score line, the first quarter was a tightly contested affair, with York notching the first four points of the game. The two teams traded the lead position repeatedly, but Toronto eventually pulled away as Evan Shadkami, Chris Barrett, Eric Rwahwire, Eli Mouyal and Jeremy Aibi all notched at least one basket from outside the arc. Using their impressive accuracy — a 75 per cent success rate on their three-point shots alone — the Blues headed into the second quarter with a commanding 32–21 lead.

York struggled to contain the surging Blues, resorting to taking four team fouls before the half was over. The Lions were able to cut slightly into Toronto’s lead, but the Blues’ pinpoint accuracy was too much to overcome. Toronto led the game 55–48 at half time, boasting a 66.7 per cent accuracy rate for three-pointers versus York’s paltry 18.2 per cent. Rwahwire and Shadkami scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, with sophomore Somachi Agbapu notching an emphatic block.

The third quarter saw Toronto extend their lead once as the chippy Lions garnered their 10th team foul ­— a number which continued to grow throughout the quarter. Toronto continued to stand tall against the onslaught, using their speed to both force and capitalize on York errors. This led to a total of six steals by the end of the game.

Toronto entered the final quarter with a 12-point lead and would not let up, sinking an additional 19 points in the final frame alone on their way to their second season win.

Rwahwire and Shadkami were the indisputable stars of the game, notching 24 and 21 points, respectively, while Barrett was a crucial playmaker in his 12-point performance. Daniel Johansson was a pivotal force on offense, notching a team-high three offensive rebounds. The men will return home on November 30, where they hope to deliver another electric match against the McMaster Marauders.