The Varsity Blues men’s basketball team defeated the Memorial University of Newfoundland Seahawks 73–59 in a closely contested pre-season game at the UTM campus.
This was the first Varsity game played at the UTM campus this year instead of St. George’s Athletic Centre sports gym. The atmosphere was electric, with over 300 people in attendance to cheer on both teams. The game started off much like a professional NBA game, with cheers during the introduction of the Varsity Blues players and coaching staff, and a barrage of boos directed at the opposing Memorial Seahawks.
The game started off slow, with both teams playing strong defence at the beginning of the first quarter. The Seahawks chose to play inside; by giving centre Vasilije Curcic opportunities to collect rebounds and score points near the hoop, Memorial took an early 13–5 lead halfway through the first quarter. UTM’s Manny Sahota tried to turn things around early by stealing the ball and racing down the floor to score and put a spring in the step of the team, bringing the score to 18–15 in the Blues’ favour at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter continued in much the same way, with Memorial getting the ball in deep inside to their big men to jump-start their offence. The Blues slowly picked up the offensive pace with help from guard Alex Hill, and with the defensive efforts of Memorial University slowing down, the Blues were able to take a 33–31 lead.
The cheerleading team for the Varsity Blues put on a show for spectators, followed by a half-time show organized by UTMAC.
The Blues came out of the half firing on all cylinders, with Sahota hitting a three-point basket to push the lead to five points early in the third quarter. Memorial University didn’t roll over without a fight, however, and was able to shift the momentum and take a 42–41 lead halfway through the quarter. The Seahawks picked up the defence and stalled the offensive effort of the Blues, leading at the end of the third quarter with a score of 49–45.
After a much-needed consultation with head coach John Campbell during the interval, the Blues’ defence began to outshine Memorial’s offence. Blues big men Dennis Ankrah and Devin Johnson defended against Curcic, who was unable to keep his team in the lead. Curcic ended with a game high of 22 points and 15 rebounds. The Varsity Blues rallied around Sahota, who, with a couple of steals, a late three-pointer, and a block, helped seal the victory for U of T. The game ended 73–59 in favor of the Blues, giving Campbell his first pre-season win with the Varsity Blues.
After the game, fans of both teams spilled out of the RAWC to grab the free pizza and refreshments waiting for them and discuss the highs and lows of the game. “The game was intense and longer than normal Division 1 games. I don’t know why we don’t have more Varsity games here at the UTM campus,” said UTM student Manny Jacques. “It’s fun to watch and the atmosphere is unlike any other basketball game I’ve seen at the gym.”
The Varsity Blues beat Concordia University on October 19,109–68, and took on St. Lawrence College on October 20. They begin the regular season in Saskatchewan against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies on October 24.
The photo for this article was miscredited in the print edition. It was taken by Christy Tam, not by Jasmeen Virk. A correction will be printed in the October 28, 2013 issue.