Basketball Lions split NCAA weekend with a win and a loss

It was a weekend of highs and lows for the York Lions men’s basketball team. On Saturday, Sept. 1, Lions player Tut Ruach’s jumper with 3.4 seconds left in the game gave the York Lions a dramatic 80 to 79 come-from-behind victory over the Kentucky-based Morehead State University Eagles in an National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)/Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) men’s basketball exhibition game at the Tait McKenzie Centre, on York’s Keele campus. Ruach, the Lions point guard, led his team back from a 22-point deficit in the second half, scoring a game-high 26 points to thrill a boisterous packed house at York.

"I knew if I could get that shot, it would go in," Ruach said of his running jumper from the top of the key. "Guys just kept playing hard [after the Lions fell behind] and it paid off."

Ruach’s game-winner came after Morehead State’s Maze Stallworth missed a pair of free throws, setting the stage for a captivating finish.

Right: York Lions forward Azaz Awan attempts a shot during a 80 to 79 victory over the NCAA’s Morehead State Eagles. Photo by Rita Abiog.

"We have a lot of young guys, a lot of new guys, and everyone was just hungry," said Ruach, who also led York with five assists. "We were a little nervous with so many new guys [four Lions made their debuts], but we stepped up."

Lions players Jason Hoult and Stefan Haynes chipped in with 10 points apiece for the Lions. Kenneth Faried led Morehead State with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Les Simmons added 17 points for the Eagles, who beat the Ryerson Rams 93 to 69 earlier in the day.

Then, less than 24 hours after the wild victory over the Morehead State Eagles, the York Lions could not produce the same magic against another NCAA Division I team.

The Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers, just one year removed from a Final Four appearance, beat the Lions 101 to 67 Sunday at the Tait McKenzie Centre in the finale of York’s two-game pre-season set against NCAA teams.

"We just didn’t get the job done, but I’m still very proud of our guys," Lions head coach Bob Bain said. "We challenged and we worked hard."

The Tigers, who opened their three-game Canadian trip with a 92 to 60 win over the Guelph Gryphons Saturday night, opened up a double-digit lead against York before the first half was 10 minutes old and rolled to victory. Four players scored in double figures for the Tigers, including leading point-getter Marcus Thornton with 19. The Tigers, who conclude their Canadian excursion on Labour Day against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, also controlled the glass, out rebounding the Lions 40 to 24.

Right: Lions forward Matthew Terejko battles for the ball during a 101 to 67 loss against LSU. Photo by Rita Abiog.

Ruach led York for the second day in a row with 16 points. Matthew Terejko scored 13 points for York, while Jason Hoult added 10.

With the loss, the Lions’ Labour Day weekend record against NCAA teams in the past four years fell to 3 to 5.

The Lions will return to the floor Oct. 12 when they begin play in the McGill pre-season tournament. York’s Ontario University Athletics season opener is Nov. 9 in London, Ont., against the University of Western Ontario Mustangs.

Subitted to YFile by Mike Koreen, sport & recreation information officer in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health.