(KITCHENER, ON) The Five may have entered Thursday night’s game in the midst of their longest road trip of the season, but their high energy on the court didn’t signify any tired bodies.
The Five had a new face on the bench for Thursday’s game, with recently signed guard Mamadou Gueye joining the team for the first time this season. The University of Alberta grad will be in the lineup for his first game in a Five uniform in Kitchener on Saturday.
Both teams got off to slow starts to begin the contest on Thursday night. Turnovers and missed shots were the story in the first, with neither team able to get the offense going in the first six minutes. It was the big men that led the offense for both teams. Isaiah ‘Big Dog’ Johnson couldn’t be stopped in the paint with five points and four rebounds in the first. Derek Hall led the way offensively for the Titans with seven points and two rebounds. After the first, the Five were down a bucket 20-18.
The offense came alive for the Five in the second quarter. Jaylen Bland caught fire, shooting 50% including 2-5 from beyond the arc. Poor shooting and ball management for the Titans led to a 14-0 run by the Five. Both teams struggled from the free throw line, with the Five shooting 25%, and the Titans failing to make a shot from the charity stripe in the quarter. After the second, the Five were up six, 43-37.
With the offense looking to stay red hot, Head Coach Logan Stutz once again looked to his starters to carry the Five. Jaylen Bland delivered with another strong quarter, leading all players in scoring with 14 points, including four three pointers. Cory Dixon also chipped in for six points and two rebounds. Poor shooting continued to be the theme for the Titans, shooting 26.9% from the field in the third. The Five created some separation, moving into the final 12 minutes up ten 69-59.
With the Titans forwards in foul trouble, Head Coach Cavell Johnson was forced to go with a smaller lineup for the last quarter of the game. As a result, the floor opened up for Isaiah ‘Big Dog’ Johnson to go to work. The 6-foot-10 forward had six points and three rebounds in just seven minutes of playing time in the fourth. Big Dog was able to protect the rim on defense, limiting access for any of the Titans guards. The offense continued to fly on all cylinders with Braylon Rayson leading all players with 13 points in the quarter. The Five scored a game high 36 in the fourth, to take the game, 105-89.
With the win, the Five set a new franchise record with their fourth straight win. The Five will be looking to make it five wins in a row when they return to the Kitchener Auditorium Saturday for game 2 of the three game mid-season series. Game time is 7:00 pm.
Be sure to catch the action Saturday and watch online at www.nblclive.ca.