(Mississauga, ON) The Raptors 905 played their first game of the NBA G League season in Mississauga, Ontario’s Paramount Fine Foods Centre, ultimately falling 118-101 to the College Park Skyhawks. Starters Ron Harper Jr. and Javon Freeman-Liberty, along with Kevin Obanor, Jaylen Morris and Justise Winslow were unavailable due to injury for this second game on the calendar.

The two teams performed evenly in the first half, with both squads seemingly going shot for shot for the game’s first 24 minutes. The game blew open in the third quarter when the Skyhawks had defensively adjusted to the 905’s insistence on attacking the paint and poor perimeter shooting.

“They took away the advance pass,” said 905 Head Coach Eric Khoury of the Skyhawks third quarter adjustment. “A big focus of ours is to get to the paint, and their bigs are really up and aggressive to prevent that. A lot of the times we did turn the corner, kicked it out, and found a pretty good look, and weren’t able to knock it down. It felt like every time we missed we were indecisive on crashing the glass or getting back. And if we don’t put pressure on the offensive glass and we don’t get back, it’s just gonna be runouts, and that’s what hurt us in the third.”

Conversely, the 905 were focused on keeping the Skyhawks out of the paint from the jump. They largely succeeded in the first half, scoring 30 points in the paint to the Skyhawk’s 12.

However, the 905 defence was gradually stretched over time due to strong three-point shooting from the Skyhawks’ Keaton Wallace (3/4 3PTM), Jarkel Joiner (3/4 3PTM), and backup big man Reginald Kissoonlal (4/6 3PTM). Kissoonlal made just 34.1 percent of his 3-point tries with the Maine Celtics last season. With the defense stretched in the second half, the Skyhawks had 44 paint points to the 905’s 48 by the final buzzer.

Not to be outdone by Kissonlal, the 905’s starting center Makur Maker flashed some impressive shotmaking of his own, going four-of-five from deep in the first half alone. Despite the hot hand, he would only attempt one more three for the remainder of the game due to foul trouble, and would miss it.

The near seven-footer fouled out in the middle of the fourth quarter, finishing with 16 points and three rebounds.

With the home team banged up, it was Darryl Morsell’s time to shine. The second-year 905er was the team’s Swiss Army knife – catching and shooting, making timely cuts, creating shots for his teammates, and displaying multiple efforts on defence.

“We were down a couple guys, so somebody had to shoot the ball for them [sic] guys,” said Morsell who attempted a game-high of 18 shots. “I was just a little bit more aggressive, just trying to help the team at the end of the day.”

He scored a team-high 22 points while matching starting point guard Markquis Nowell’s seven assists.

After flirting with a triple-double against the Long Island Nets on Friday night, Nowell put 16 points on the board without grabbing a rebound in 39 minutes.

Regardless, it seems the Toronto Raptors undrafted rookie has already made some noise around the league, as the Skyhawks had spent a multitude of possessions blitzing the point guard out of Kansas State. Though he stands at just 5 ‘7”, Nowell was effective at dissecting double teams. Nowell cooled off dramatically in the middle of the third quarter when College Park started hedging or staying home instead.

Toronto Raptors two-way player Mouhamadou Gueye had another efficient outing, once again showing good chemistry with Nowell and Morsell on offence. He had 18 points on 54.5 FG% to go with a team-high eight rebounds. His length and athleticism are also essential to the squad’s defensive integrity.

“That’s two games for Mo. He’s playing really well out the gate,” said Khoury of Gueye. “His speed, his hands, the pressure he puts on the rim. A lot of times he’s the one rolling and he’s creating wide-open looks for teammates and that doesn’t show on the boxscore… He had a great training camp with the Raptors and he’s carried it over to us.”

Skyhawks big man Chris Silva had a field day with Maker (the 905’s only true big man) on the bench with foul trouble. He generated 27 points on 64.3 FG% and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Atlanta Hawks second-round pick Seth Lundy went a disappointing one-of-nine from the field for eight points and four rebounds, but curiously had a team-high plus-minus of plus-23 in his 34 minutes.

Off to the wrong foot, the 905 start the Memorial Cup portion of the season 0-2. They will have a home rematch against the College Park Skyhawks on Nov. 14.

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