On Wednesday, the UTM Eagles Division 1 Mens basketball team laced up for their semi-final game against Woodsworth College. This was the first and last time the two teams would play each other as they both faced the looming fate of elimination.
In preparation for the game, the Eagles held a defense oriented practice, geared towards shutting down Woodsworths top scorer, ex-varsity star player, and Division 1 threat, Mike DiGiorgio.
Just containing one guy is what our defense revolves around, said Mohammed Syed, UTMs threepoint specialist. Pretty much getting DiGiorgio to give up the ball, double teaming him, and making him uncomfortable throughout the game; thats what our practice was all about.
UTM played a stifling 3-2 zone that had two players trap DiGiorgio with UTMs shooting guard Andre Woodruffe showcasing his defensive tenacity by jamming the passing lane and coming up with the first steal of the game.Woodruffe also drained the first basket to put the eagles up by three.
UTM played an up-tempo game for the first ten minutes of the half, pushing the ball for easy fast-breakpoints. On defense, they kept the clamps on DiGiorgio, swarmed the perimeter shooters and swallowed every rebound, with no contest. UTM finished the half with a tenpoint lead.
The second half however told a different story. UTM had more turnovers than a ride on a Ferris wheel Their bad passes, traveling violations, and ill-advised shots meant Woodsworth were kept in the game.
The fans on the sidelines decided they had to help their Eagles team out. Chants of Defense…Defense from UTMs bench made it hard for Woodsworth to concentrate. However, DiGiorgio, who only scored three points in the first half, broke loose from the defensive shackles and hit two threes in a row.
The same kicked into fifth gear with seven-minutes left when DiGiorgio drained two threes. However, in the dying minutes of the game it was Woodsworths point guard, Eddie Kagemana who took center stage when he hit a heartwrenching jump-shot to give Woodsworth the lead. Woodruffe then answered back with a quick jumper. He finished the game with 26 points and four steals.
With 34 seconds on the clock, Kagemana hit a three, making the score 69-68 for UTM. Woodsworth immediately fouled Alan Carty, sending him to the line for two. The crowd was silent, players were anxious and Carty remained focused. He nailed both free-throws to extend the lead by three. With 2.7 seconds left, Digiorgio caught the ball off the inbound, dribbled once, and hoisted the ball into the air for a Hail Mary shot that sailed out of bounds. Final score: 71 to 68 for the UTM Eagles.
UTM now prepares for their championship game on March 11 at 8 p.m. at the RAWC.