by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
The Windsor Lancers men’s basketball team fell short in a preseason duel with the Carroll University Pioneers of the NCAA division III’s College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin at the St. Denis Centre Oct. 18.
Pioneers Ben Widdes scored a game-high 16 points to go along with eight rebounds and four assists while Tanne Zaeske put up 14 points. Kyle Keranen scored 12 points on 10 made free throws and his lone field goal of the evening on a transition jumper pushed Carroll’s lead to six with 58 seconds remaining and the eventual 63-58 victory.
Carroll head coach Paul Combs said his team battled some injuries early in a contest that could have gone either way. Combs complimented Windsor’s caliber of players and said the team’s four-game Canadian trip brought his group closer together.
“Whether it was in Toronto or Windsor, we had a terrific experience,” said Combs. “It brought us closer together and we played some outstanding basketball. I’ve been on five foreign trips and this is the best competition we have played, so this is only going to make us better. Windsor has three guys who would for sure be all-conference in our league so it really sets the table well for us to get prepared.”The Persaud brothers, Damian and Tyler, both chipped with 12 and 11 points respectively for Windsor. Lancers captain Mike Rocca scored eight points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. First year forward Anthony Zrvnar chipped in with eight points and Lucas Orlita knocked down two triples to pick up six.
Windsor head coach Chris Oliver said the team’s inability to get to the free throw line in a physical game and small details on defense made a big impact in the final outcome.
“We just didn’t get to the free throw line enough to be able to get some easy opportunities to score,” said Oliver. “They were very good defensively and they made it a muck it out, ugly game and that’s what you have to do, we have to be able to go inside in those types of games. You get what you accept and when you allow the other team to play physical and dictate things, that’s what you get. That’s part of what we have to learn and develop and we’ve got a long way to go.”
Windsor held a 14-13 edge after the first quarter and led by as many as nine points midway through the second. The final minutes of the first half featured a bevy of turnovers before Lancers guard Micqueel Martin’s slam dunk puts Windsor up 34-29 at the break.
In the third quarter, Orlita entered the game and canned a three to put Windsor up 39-35. A slam dunk from Carroll’s Ray Pierce gave the Pios bench energy and a quick basket after put them up 40-39. Ben Widdes knocked down a jumper to make it 42-39. A pair of baskets from Tyler Persaud and Orlita’s second triple put Windsor back on top 45-43 but the home team trailed 47-46 headed into the fourth.
A put back from big man Pim Hurkmans kept Windsor within one early in a low-scoring fourth frame. With 2:56 remaining, Oliver called timeout with the Lancers trailing 56-52. Windsor’s Zrvnar drew a foul on the ensuing possession but missed both free throws. After misses at both ends of the floor, Keranen’s transition jumper pushed Carroll’s lead out of reach in a 63-58 final.
“I think it’s going to be that type of season, in terms of us trying to figure out how to win close games,” said Oliver. “Clearly, when we don’t shoot well, we need to rely on some things defensively in order to be better and I think some small details hurt us too. We only gave up 63 points but we’ll try to be better.”
The Lancers now heads to the RBC Brock Classic in St. Catharine’s from Oct. 21-23 for three games in their final preseason tournament. Windsor caps off exhibition play when they visit the Lawrence Tech Blue Devils in Southfield, MI. Nov. 5.