Marauders denied national title again


HALIFAX — At least the McMaster men's basketball team can say they lost to the best.

The Marauders will take home few fond on-court memories from their eighth consecutive trip to the CIAU basketball tournament without a championship. For only the third time in that span, McMaster was eliminated in the first round, losing 82-79 to St. Francis Xavier. It was a rematch of the 1993 championship game, also won by the tiny Antigonish, Nova Scotia school, during the Marauders' first trip to the eight-team event in the current run.

The X-Men went on to capture the national championship on Sunday evening by defeating the Brandon Bobcats 61-59.

“I've always said that they were the most talented team in the country,” said McMaster head coach Joe Raso after Friday's loss. “They showed it down the stretch.”

The Marauders erased a 14-point, second half deficit, but an off-balance three-pointer from guard Emmanuel Ostojic at the final buzzer just missed sending the game into overtime.

Guard Steve Maga, named an all-Canadian a night earlier, led the Marauders with 21 points.

Relegated to the consolation bracket, McMaster defeated Concordia 93-77 on Saturday. Again, Maga led the way, scoring a game-high 30 points, on 10-16 shooting from the field.

But the Marauders ended their season on a losing note Sunday, falling 68-57 to the Alberta Golden Bears in the consolation final.

Maga, who as named to the tournament's all-star team for the third straight year, finished with 32 points. Rookie Graham Hewitt added 10 points and 11 rebounds.