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TMU Bold men's basketball player takes a shot over a Lakehead Thunderwolves defencer
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‘Goldfish memory’ leads TMU to toppling of Thunderwolves

By Aleksa Cosovic

The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) men’s basketball team won their season opener tonight at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC), defeating the Lakehead Thunderwolves by a score of 86-76.

Fourth-year TMU guard David Walker scored 17 points in the final quarter—leading all players with a game-high of 23—to put Lakehead away late in the contest. 

“[Lakehead] is a well-coached team and are really good on offence in terms of spreading you out and trying to exploit mismatches,” said TMU head coach David DeAveiro. 

The Bold were looking to start the season in the win column after losing their final pre-season game against the Canisius Golden Griffins 97-74 in Buffalo, N.Y. on Oct. 21. 

The first play of the game saw fifth-year guard Cameron Ramage throw a lob pass to David Walker, who finished with the easy two under the rim. 

Both teams traded baskets in the first few minutes of the contest, with the Bold trailing by a score of 16-13 going into the first timeout of the quarter.

The visitors were effective from beyond the arc in the early going. A three from fourth-year forward Nathan Bilamu and fifth-year guard Jared Kreiner gave the Thunderwolves a lead of seven, forcing DeAveiro to call his second timeout of the quarter. 

“[Ever watched] Ted Lasso? What do you say about a goldfish? It’s got the smallest memory,” said DeAveiro. 

A two-handed jam from third-year forward Aidan Wilson on the Bold’s first offensive possession coming out of the TMU timeout halted Lakehead’s momentum swing as the blue and gold slowly began clawing away at the Thunderwolves lead.

“What do you say about a goldfish? It’s got the smallest memory”

A steal and finish from third-year guard Marsei Caston in the dying seconds brought the roaring crowd to its feet—bringing Lakehead’s advantage to just one with ten seconds remaining in the first. 

But, it seemed that the bank was open on a Friday night. In the dying moments, fifth-year Thunderwolves guard Chume Nwigwe sank a highly-contested three off the glass to give his side a four-point cushion to end the first. The Thunderwolves led the Bold 26-22 after 10 minutes of action.

The Bold started the second quarter more prepared. The blue and gold took the lead 29-28 after the first two minutes as fifth-year TMU forward Julian Walker converted his free throw on the and-one play. However, it would be a back-and-forth contest throughout the entirety of the second, with seven lead changes occurring throughout the quarter.

“I didn’t think we did a really good job following the scouting report in the first half in terms of how we wanted to play, so we want to sharpen that up for tomorrow for sure,” said DeAveiro.

A mid-range jumper from third-year Bold forward Aaron Rhooms resulted in a slim advantage of 45-42 for TMU after 20 minutes of action. Rhooms recorded a double-double in the game, scoring 17 points on 46.7 per cent and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.

“A lot of people are drawn to Aaron when he has the ball. He’s a prolific scorer. So we just believe in him all the time. He just helps us all the time on the offensive end,” said David Walker on his teammate’s performance tonight.

Going into the second half, the Bold made some adjustments to how they were approaching the Thunderwolves’ offence. 

“We had to change our coverage at halftime,” added DeAveiro. “We held them to [34] points in the [second half], so I think that was a help for us.” 

The third quarter was once again a closely contested matchup, with both teams trading baskets on one end and playing hard defence on the other.

The Bold brought themselves into foul trouble early. A three-point conversion from the top of the arc by fourth-year Lakehead guard Lawi Msambya gave the Thunderwolves their first lead of the second half—forcing DeAveiro to call timeout. But a one-handed dunk under the rim from first-year guard Michael Kayembe brought the lead back to one for the blue and gold. Shortly after, a 6-0 run from Caston gave the Bold a five-point lead going into the final quarter. 

The early stages of the fourth saw the visitors stay in the game, not allowing the Bold to run away with their lead. 

“David came into the fourth quarter and took over the game”

With a Bold lead of six, David Walker slashed to the basket, made a heavily contested layup and sank his free throw on the and-one opportunity.

“I started to attack the ball screens, I felt like the big was a little fragile, so, I just kept trying to attack,” said Walker.

David Walker put on a clinic in the final quarter. What initially looked to be a quiet night, the Toronto product blossomed, scoring fourteen straight points for the blue and gold.  

“David came into the fourth quarter and took over the game,” said DeAveiro. 

A beautifully executed overhead pass from David Walker to Rhooms resulted in a mid-range opportunity, which Rhooms capitalized on—bringing the TMU lead to 15.

“David and Aaron can score one-on-one. Our other guys need to move [the ball] and share it a little bit more. Those two guys are our primary scorers,” said DeAveiro. “We got two really great players.”

David Walker’s 20th point of the game brought the TMU lead to a game-high of 16. 

“I had like about three fouls in the first [quarter]. I was just in my head a little bit. I knew just to stay the course,” said David Walker.

The Bold shot 56.3 per cent from the field in the fourth, 49.3 per cent on the game and would take the victory to kick off the 2023-2024 season. 

“We’ll be better tomorrow. We’ll watch [game] tape tomorrow and learn a little more about what’s there and what’s not there, and make a couple of adjustments and we’ll be fine,” said DeAveiro. 

UP NEXT: TMU takes on Lakehead in the second leg of a back-to-back at the MAC on Nov. 4. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.

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