(SUDBURY, ON) Thursday's game was a much-needed homecoming for the Five.
Fresh off of the team's longest road trip of the season, the Five returned home Thursday for a divisional match-up against the KW Titans.
The Five entered Thursday's game with a new face in the lineup. University of Alberta grad, and Canadian Men's National Mamadou Gueye made his home debut for the Five Thursday. Born in Quebec City, Gueye looked to add a spark to the lineup after a strong first game in Kitchener Saturday.
The Titans got off to a hot start Thursday, jumping out to an early 21-7 lead mid-way through the first quarter. The Titans were led by NBL Canada veteran Tramar Sutherland who had 10 points, including two threes in the first. After a slow start in the first six minutes, the Five offense came alive, finishing the first on a 25-9 run. Travis Releford led the way for the Five with 7 points, while Mamadou Gueye shot perfect from behind the arc for six points in his first quarter at home. Just as the quarter was ending, guard Jaylen Bland picked up the inbound and rifled a half-court shot that found its way through the hoop. At the end of the first, the Five led by a basket 32-30.
After scoring 32 points in the first, the Five offense continued to roll in the second. The bench for the Five scored 17 points in the second, led by eight from the former Golden Bear Gueye. Damon Lynn had an efficient quarter for the Titans, scoring 10 points on perfect shooting in just seven minutes of play. Going in to the second half, the Five were up by four, 59-55.
With the offense leading the game for both teams in the first half, defense was the topic of conversation for both teams at half time. With new tactics being implemented by both sides, the offense started off slow with only 11 points scored between both teams in the first two minutes of the third. Guard Jaylen Bland caught fire in the third, scoring ten points with three rebounds in the third. A proponent of the team's success all game, the Five bench went quiet in the third, scoring just two points in the third. The Titans cut the lead to one, with the Five taking an 82-81 lead into the fourth quarter.
With a valuable two points on the line, the intensity increased in the final frame. Braylon Rayson continued his fourth quarter dominance posting 15 points and four assists in the final quarter. Devin Gilligan capped one of his strongest games in a Five uniform in the fourth quarter with seven points off the bench. With time expiring, the Titans Ashton Smith hit a half-court shot to pull the Titans within one, but it was too little, too late. The Five secured the win and the two points, 116-115.
Forward Cory Dixon was named the BOSS Supplements Sudbury Player of the Game. Bringing energy on both sides of the court, Dixon was a catalyst for the Five offense finishing the game with 10 points, seven rebounds, and a steal. The unsung hero for the Five was the team bench, who scored 46 points, outscoring the Titans bench 46-25.
The Five will enjoy a much-needed day off on Friday before returning home to the Sudbury Arena Saturday evening as they take on the Cape Breton Highlanders. Tickets for the game are available online at www.thefive.caor in person at the Sudbury Arena Box Office.