The Saskatchewan Rattlers were unable to battle back from an early deficit as they fell short to the visiting Guelph Nighthawks by a score of 93-75 at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, SK.
With each of the respective teams entering the night on a losing streak, one was bound to end, but the Rattlers were unable to take advantage of the opportunity as they picked up their first loss of the season against the Nighthawks.
The Rattlers fell to 6-8 on the season, while the Nighthawks snapped their four-game losing skid to improve to 4-10 in the inaugural CEBL season.
Guelph’s hot shooting proved to be the difference on the night, as they shot 36% from downtown, in comparison to Saskatchewan’s 19% clip from long-range.
“We’re definitely in a slump in terms of shooting the ball over the last several games. Being able to make those open looks is very important, especially early in the game to get the confidence going,” said Rattlers head coach Greg Jockims.
Negus Webster-Chan paced the Rattlers with 16 points on 5-19 shooting to go along with three rebounds and three assists, while Tavrion Dawson, who entered the night as the CEBL’s leading scorer with 20.5 points-per-game, was held well below his average as he tallied 13 points on 5-10 shooting.
Former University of Saskatchewan Huskie guard Lawrence Moore was held in check, as the Chicago, IL. native recorded five points on 2-8 shooting, after his breakout 18-point outing last week against the Hamilton Honeybadgers.
Connor Wood led the way for the Nighthawks with 29 points on 10-17 shooting in the win. The former Carleton Ravens guard was lights out from beyond-the-arc, as he knocked down 9 of his 13 three-point attempts. Kimbal Mackenzie chipped in 19 points of his own, after shooting 7-13 from the field.
Saskatchewan was sluggish out of the gates, as Guelph jumped out to a 14-0 lead to open the game. Tavrion Dawson’s dunk at the 6:11 mark of the quarter provided the Rattlers with their first points of the contest.
“We got professional players here. You can’t come out flat. It’s your job to come out and play hard, and we didn’t. That was kind of the difference in the game,” said Jockims. “We’re got to be solid in coming out ready to play and in terms of our game plan, and whenever we waver from that, teams get out from us a bit and then it’s really hard to come back.”
After trailing 26-7 with under four minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Rattlers were able to close the frame on a 10-0 run to trail by nine after ten minutes of action.
Linklater got the crowd back into the game with under three minutes remaining in the first half, as the Saskatoon native converted the hoop and the harm plus the free-throw to complete the three-point play.
The Rattlers continued to battle back as Webster-Chan’s three-pointer trimmed the visitors lead to eight late in the second quarter.
But after Webster-Chan went one of two from the charity stripe to cut the lead to seven, the Nighthawks were able to dial up a response, as Mackenzie knocked down a corner triple overtop of Marlon Johnson to re-establish a double-digit lead for the visitors, with the Rattlers trailing 44-34 at recess.
However, the Rattlers were unable to fully bring themselves back within striking distance after their sluggish start.
Gentrey Thomas’ lay-in cut the deficit to eight, but Guelph was once again able to withstand a fury from Saskatchewan, as they rallied off a 7-0 run to establish a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter. However, the Bridge City officially became Lob City, after Webster-Chan got off and running in transition and threw the alley-oop to Marlon Johnson who finished the jam with authority to provide the Rattlers with a spark.
Unfortunately for the home side, they were unable to ride with that momentum as the Nighthawks continued to hold off the Rattlers for the remainder of the quarter and entered the final ten minutes of action with a nine-point lead.
Guelph outscored Saskatchewan 30-21 to close the contest and were able to escape the Snake Pit with the victory.
The Rattlers will be back in action in a week’s time when they travel west for a matchup against the Fraser Valley Bandits in Abbotsford as they attempt to snap their five-game losing streak.