SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. (from Western Mustangs) – A season-high 27 points from Marko Kovac helped the Western Mustangs pick up their second consecutive win over the Algoma Thunderbirds, a 95-91 overtime victory Saturday night at the George Leach Centre.
The win gives Western an 11-7 record and maintains their position in second place in the OUA West standings, with a four-point lead over the third-place Laurier Golden Hawks and Windsor Lancers. The loss moves Algoma to 4-14 on the year, with the Thunderbirds in a three-way tie with Guelph and McMaster for sixth in the West.
Kovac’s 27 points comes just a day after the forward put up 24 points in the Mustangs 89-80 win over Algoma on Friday night. Saturday night’s effort saw Kovac go 12-22 from the floor including hitting going three-for-six from beyond the arc, while once again leading the team with eight rebounds.
Two other Mustangs scored in double digits on Saturday, with Omar Shiddo adding 25 points to his 24 points from Friday night, while Jedson Tavernier added 16 points in the win.
Reng Gum and Nathan Riley led the Thunderbirds on the score sheet with 16 points each, while Ian Nash and Cailum White both scored 14 points, and Damian Okungbowa added 10. Gum also led all players on the boards, grabbing 15 rebounds in the loss.
The Thunderbirds started out strong in front of their home crowd, kicking off the game with a 7-0 run. From there the quarter proved to be more even with both sides trading baskets as the Mustangs chipped away at the Algoma lead. Kovac led the way for the purple and white, scoring 10 points in the opening quarter that ended with Algoma up 28-22.
Western continued to close the gap early in the second, with the Mustangs tying things up midway through the frame on a three pointer from Shiddo to set the scoreboard at 34-34. With the game even again at 41-41, Shiddo hit the final basket of the half to send the Mustangs into the third quarter with a 43-41 lead.
The game continued to be a tightly contested affair as the two teams returned from the break, before Algoma was able to build up a slight advantage with a 9-2 run near the middle of the frame on their way to taking a 66-60 lead into the fourth quarter.
Algoma extended their lead to 11 points in the opening minutes of the fourth, before Western began to cut into the lead with a little more than seven minutes remaining. The trio of Tavernier, Shiddo, and Kovac sparked the Mustangs offence in the fourth, recording seven, six, and five points respectively to help set the scoreboard at 84-84 at the end of regulation.
After trading points to start things off, the Mustangs began to pull away with just under three minutes remaining, as back-to-back baskets for Kovac tied the game then put the Mustangs in front for good. Fittingly enough as the game’s leading scorer, Kovac rounded out the scoring with one final basket to give Western a 95-91 win.
Next up for the Mustangs is a Wednesday night matchup against the Waterloo Warriors on January 31 at Alumni Hall. Game time is set for 8 p.m., and fans can tune in to all the action live on OUA.tv and Radio Western 94.9 FM.