There was a lot of hype coming into the game on Wednesday night as the UTM Eagles welcomed Woodsworth College to the RAWC for the battle between the top two teams in the men’s Division 1 basketball standings. Both teams came into the game with identical 8-1 records, hoping to take the top spot in the division.
As the game began, the excitement was palpable in the crowd. The players seemed to feed off this energy, and the game had a fast pace right from the get-go. Woodsworth took the opening tip-off and went straight to the basket to open up the scoring. UTM responded right away with two of their own, setting the pace for the game. The teams fought back and forth with many quick counterattacks in the opening minutes of the game, but the defences on both sides were not letting anything past. UTM matched another Woodsworth basket a minute later, and the score was tied at 4-4. UTM pressed Woodsworth and forced them into fouls, but could not convert the free throws.
After three minutes of scoreless pressure, a Woodsworth basket forced UTM into calling the first timeout of the game. This seemed to inspire the Eagles, who came back and took the lead with the first three-pointer of the game. The game was still really tight, with Woodsworth getting a layup and then a three of their own to take the lead at 14-11. However, UTM did not let up, forcing Woodsworth into their sixth foul in the first 10 minutes. The back-and-forth play continued, but UTM did not give up the lead, and Woodsworth eventually called a timeout with UTM leading 24-21. Little changed, as neither team could pull away, although Woodsworth took the lead back with a three-pointer to make the score 34-32. Both teams were fighting hard, and UTM ended the half with a basket and foul, trailing 42-40.
The teams started the second half with the same energy as the first, the Eagles getting a quick basket to tie the game at 44-44. After some more back-and-forth play, UTM went on an eight-point run to take the lead at 55-50. Woodsworth quickly responded with two lay-ins to pull to within a point, and neither team was letting up.
UTM matched every Woodsworth basket with one of their own, and managed to keep a small lead with the score 64-62. After this, UTM organised their attack and scored a couple of quick points to establish the first real difference in the game, leading 82-68.
Woodsworth were forced to call a timeout, and came back with some stronger play to bring UTM’s lead down to 88-78.
With time winding down in the game, Woodsworth kept pushing for the win. The Eagles were forced into a timeout with a minute left in the game, leading by only 90-87. Both teams were excited and fouled a lot, but Woodsworth was not shooting free throws well, and UTM quickly counterattacked to reinforce the lead.
They scored one final basket as the clock ran out to secure the win with a final score of 94-88.
The win is the seventh straight by UTM, and fans are excited that they are doing so well. “I love coming out to games when they play this well—they’re fun to watch,” says Jessica Silva, a UTM student and basketball fan. “They just play so well as a team, and that just makes all of their games so exciting. I really think they deserve to win the trophy this year.”
The win puts UTM at the top of the men’s Div 1 basketball standings with one game remaining in the regular season. UTM will finish the regular season at home again this Wednesday against U of T Law.