The gymnasium bleachers were packed full for the Nov. 7 men’s basketball home opener that went right down to the final buzzer, as Algonquin put up a valiant effort in hopes of putting a dent in Durham’s perfect 2-0 record.
The Thunder held a lead for the better-half of the game, which was stolen right out from under them late, in a heartbreaking 75-72 defeat at the hands of the Lords.
“The game was right there,” said Thunder assistant coach Jim Langis. “We had control and the lead for most of the game, and to let it slip away like that at the end is just frustrating.”
Algonquin was slow out of the gate, succumbing to a 0-6 run to start the game, but this proved to be the largest leading margin of the first half, as it ended with Algonquin leading 35-32.
Solid shutdown defense in the third quarter allowed the Thunder to jump to a 10-point lead. But a series of calls by the referees that Algonquin deemed suspect paved the way for some costly turnovers, which seemed to be a turning point in the game, as the defense began to slowly crumble as well.
“We know we’re better than this team,” said Thunder centre Esmat Atem. “We showed that in the third when we got up by double digits. We broke down late on the weak side of the ball and need to be there to help each other out more in the defensive end.”
Durham continued to press and eventually tied the game up 72-72 with one minute left. But a sequence of a Thunder miss, a shooting foul and a foul while under bonus led to Lords’ centre Dylan Pelissero putting his team up 75-72. Algonquin would attempt the buzzer-beater heroics, but to no avail.
“We have a lot of young guys, so these are all learning experiences,” said Langis. “Next time it’s the end of a close game, we’ll be that much better.”