Mustangs men’s basketball team ready for national stage

The Western Mustangs men's basketball team opens up the national championships Friday afternoon in Ottawa. Western Mustangs

A big weekend ahead for the Western Mustangs men’s basketball team as they get set for the USPORTS national championships in Ottawa.

The Mustangs come into the tournament as the eighth ranked team in the country, and will tip off against University of Alberta Friday afternoon at 1 p.m.

“Alberta has been one of the top three teams in the country, they are very deep, have very talented guards and some solid front court players, they are a team that’s built for a national championship,” said head coach Brad Campbell, who says the teams play contrasting styles.

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“We shoot a lot of three’s, play uptempo and cause a lot of issues in term of match-ups, we play more of a small ball type game, while Alberta is a little bit bigger, and like to pound it inside through their posts.”

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Western led the OUA averaging 10.5 three-pointers a game, and that range has certainly come in handy during their post-season run.

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Trailing Laurier by three points in the final seconds of their semi-final game, Eriq Jenkins hit a buzzer beater to send the game to overtime. Then, as the extra frame was coming to a close, the Mustangs were trailing by two points until a three pointer from Nikola Farkic gave Western a one point advantage at the final buzzer.

“I’ve been a part of a lot of crazy games over the years, but I’ve seen nothing like that, just with the drama, and the stakes of the game, you mix those two things together and it made for a crazy game in front of a packed house,” said Campbell, as he recalled the wild game at Alumni Hall.

“It will likely be one of the most memorable games that these guys will ever play in.”

The Mustangs would eventually fall to Carleton, the country’s top ranked team, in the Wilson Cup final, but still earned their first trip to the national championship in 11 years.

Carleton, who is hosting this year’s tournament, has won the national championship eight of the past nine seasons.

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The Mustangs’ only national championship came in 1991.

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