By Armen Zargarian
Toronto Metropolitan University’s (TMU) new-look men’s basketball team took the court for the first time on Friday night, losing to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Northern Illinois University Huskies (NIU) 112-82 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
The first possession of the game—a backdoor cut leading to an open dunk for NIU—was indicative of what was to come for the rest of the night. NIU showcased its scoring prowess in the first quarter, connecting on mid-range jump shots, three-pointers and looks at the rim.
“Too many paint touches, too many straight line drives. We got beat one on one today,” said TMU’s lead assistant Coach Jeremie Kayeye.
“You kind of see the difference as far as maturity,” he added. “Playing a team that’s older than us, that’s been together a bit longer. Just careless, unforced turnovers, that was the most frustrating part.”
TMU wasn’t able to stop NIU from scoring, particularly in transition and at the basket. The first quarter ended 30-13 with the visitors on top.
NIU attacked the paint relentlessly in the second quarter, securing layups or trips to the free-throw line at will.
TMU forward Simon Chamberlain, a transfer from Carleton University, answered by hitting a turnaround baseline jumper, followed by a pair of three-pointers, to keep the home side within reach of the Huskies. Chamberlain finished the night in double-figures with 17 points.
“The jitters were out after the first quarter,” said Chamberlain. “Second quarter I was able to relax a bit and take my shots.”
But the Huskies kept biting at every opportunity, punishing TMU in transition and finishing the first half with 30 points in the paint and 17 points off of the home team’s 13 turnovers.
“Transition defense is something we are going to harp on next week and I think the conditioning is going to get a lot better too as we practice more,” said Kayeye.
Kaleb Thornton and Keshawn Williams were instrumental in pushing the ball for the Huskies. David Coit also found his range from beyond the arc, finishing the first half with 19 points on 6-7 shooting from the field and 4-5 from deep.
NIU’s first half lead swelled to as many as 30 points, but TMU guard Ankit Choudhary ended the opening two quarters on a high-note for TMU by hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
TMU started the second half strong offensively when Choudhary and Liam O’Leary Orange connected on a pick and roll, which ended in a dunk for O’Leary Orange. TMU’s rookie sensation no more, Aaron Rhooms followed things up with a quick six points of his own.
NIU controlled the pace of the game and were still lethal offensively. An alley-oop connection from Zion Russell to Zarique Nutter ended the third quarter and gave the Huskies their biggest lead of the game at 88-51.
While Choudhary found his rhythm in the fourth quarter—ending the game with 16 points—victory was well out of reach for TMU.
“The bright spot is that we did have a few guys who were able to step-in and play well,” said Kayeye. “Eighty two points is good, but now we just got to get some stops,” said Kayeye.
UP NEXT: TMU will look to refocus its defence as they prepare to play Saint Michael’s College at 1 p.m. on Aug. 13 at the MAC.