Brock Badgers earn USPORTS basketball tourney ticket, may cash in on Carleton’s shock defeat


Published March 23, 2022 at 10:42 pm

Godsman Kwakwah contributed 17 points toward the Brock Badgers' win on Wednesday that qualified them for next weekend's USPORTS Final 8 men's basketball championship. (Brock Badgers)

Senior star T.J. Lall and Brock Badgers have improved their seeding case for Canada’s university men’s basketball championship, while setting up a Super Saturday of sports in St. Catharines.

The nationally No. 4-ranked Badgers took care of business with an easy 88-75 win against the McMaster Marauders at the Bob Davis Gymnasium in the OUA West men’s basketball final on Wednesday (March 23). A little while later, they learned they will be hosting the OUA Wilson Cup on Saturday, thanks to the Queen’s Gaels knocking off the perennially powerful No. 1-ranked Carleton Ravens 86-80 in the OUA East division final.

Carleton had not lost to Queen’s since 1998. The shock defeat means Lall, Badgers guard Emmanuel Owootoah and head coach Will Manigat, who have all contributed to Ravens championships, will not face their old team this weekend.

But the upshot for Brock and local sports fans is that three Badgers teams are going to be hosting OUA championship games this weekend. In men’s hoops, it will be Brock against Queen’s before the two rep Ontario University Athletics in the USPORTS Final 8 from April 1-3 in Edmonton. (Carleton, which has won 15 of the past 18 titles and last missed the tournanment in 2002, has the strongest case to earn the wild-card berth.)

The women’s basketball Badgers, ranked No. 2 in Canada, face the Rams from downtown Toronto in the Critelli Cup at 3 p.m. after their playoff win earlier on Wednesday. The Brock men’s hockey team will face off against the Trois-Rivières Patriotes in the Queen’s Cup at 7:15 p.m. at the Seymour-Hannah Centre after also advancing on Wednesday.

In front of a raucous hometown crowd, the Badgers were in control and led McMaster by as much 25 points, avenging their five-point defeat against the Marauders in Hamilton on Feb. 19. Jordan Tchuente had a game-most 22. Lall, who was on Carleton’s 2020 title team before transferring to Brock for this season, when university sports were unpaused from COVID-19 protections, put up 21. Godsman Kwakwah (pictured) hooped 17, and Kascius Small-Martin added 10.

McMaster, meantime, finishes the season with a 14-9 overall record. Jordan Henry and Mychael Paulo shared the team scoring lead with 16 points apiece on Wednesday.

The Marauders last went to the nationals in 2014.

Five teams at nationals

With the women’s hockey and women’s volleyball squads off to national tournaments this week as respective OUA champions, the past few weeks likely qualify as Brock’s best winter sports season in recent memory. The St. Catharines school is also the only USPORTS member to have both of its basketball and both hockey teams playing in the nationals.

The only other time that both Badgers basketball teams qualified was nearly 40 years ago, in 1983.

The last national tournament trip for Brock in men’s basketball was in 2018. Those Badgers dropped a two-point decision in the quarterfinal against eventual champion Calgary, and settled for winning the consolation title.

The Badgers have appeared in the Canadian university men’s basketball championship seven times, winning the W.P. McGee Trophy in both 1992 and 2008 under coach Ken Murray. The ’08 title came as a No. 7 seed, with a squad led by point guard Brad Rootes winning a tense final against Acadia.

That scenario also involved a Carleton defeat. Acadia defeated the Ravens in double overtime in the semifinal, ending a five-season title reign.

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