LAVAL, QC – Seeking to bounce back after a heartbreaking defeat in the quarterfinals, the No. 11 Humber Hawks men's basketball team faced off against the No. 12 SAIT Trojans at the 2018 CCAA National Championships Friday afternoon, losing a closely contested bronze quarterfinal game 86-83.
With Kenny Ejim opening the scoring, the Hawks burst out of the gate, scoring nine straight for an early lead to start the game. The Trojans, however, were unfazed as they soon erased the Hawks' lead, chipping away at the deficit before tying the game at 16 apiece with less than four minutes to go. With the Trojans grabbing their first lead of the game soon after, the Hawks responded with C.J. Bennett putting his team back in front late in the quarter, but the Trojans would tie the game 23-23 to end the first.
The Trojans went on a point streak to start the second quarter, scoring six straight and snatching back the lead. Ejim, with back-to-back converted three-point shots, kept the Hawks in the game, leading the Hawks to tie it 35-35 partway into the second. Another Trojans run, this time scoring seven straight, had the Hawks fighting to put themselves back in the game. Free-throws from Fowzi Mohamoud and Curwin Elvis helped shrink the point gap to three, before a last second Trojans three-point basket put the Hawks down by six, ending the first half down 52-46. The Hawks shot 46.9 per cent (15-of-32) from the field in the first half, versus the Trojans' percentage of 40.4 (19-of-47), but only had 11 rebounds compared to 26 for the Trojans.
While the Trojans struck first again in the third, the Hawks rallied from their deficit to go on a nine-point run, going up 55-54 to retake the lead. They were unable to protect their regained lead, however, as the Trojans came charging back, going back up by four. After the Hawks brought the game back within one point, their offensive pace slowed as the Trojans began to pull away from them again. With Ejim keeping his team in contention with timely layups and free-throws, the Hawks finished the third quarter still behind by six points, 73-67, going into the fourth.
The Hawks scored first to begin the fourth and final quarter but found themselves unable to narrow the gap as the Trojans remained in control. Down by nine points with five minutes left, the Hawks attempted a comeback, with Bennett and DeQuon Cascart leading the way, scoring layups and free throws and bringing the game back within a point at 84-83 with one minute remaining. Two Trojan free throws would extend the gap back to three points, and with the Hawks unable to make any last-second three-point attempts to tie, the fourth set ended at 86-83, sending the Hawks to their second loss of the tournament.
The Hawks went 37.8 per cent (28-of-74) from the field through the game and made 32.3 per cent (10-of-31) of their three-point attempts. The Trojans, while only converting on 22.7 per cent (5-of-22) of their three-point shots, remained strong from the field, where they shot 40.3 per cent (31-of-77).
Leading the Hawks in scoring was Ejim, who finished with 22 points and was named the Player of the Game for Humber. Bennett had 20 points, while both Cascart and Mohamoud had ten. Byron Trench had a team high seven rebounds.
Murphy Beya was the Trojans' leading scorer, netting 24 points. Gemie Muya-ntalaja, with 18 points and 19 rebounds, finished with a double-double.
Losing today's game, the Hawks will now face the Lakeland Rustlers in a placement match on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. EST.