Heading into the 1980s, the basketball Mustangs had been suffering terrible game play for more than a decade, but with the help of coach Doug Hayes, they improved significantly over the years. By the late 1980s their prospects of winning another championship title were much higher. In the 1986-87 season, the team took on rookie John Stiefelmeyer, who proved to be a great addition to the team for years. That year, the Cage Mustangs managed to win the “consolation final” at the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU) tournament.
The following two season, 1987-88 and 1988-89, they went on to regain the Ontario University Athletic Association (OUAA) championship title they had been so sorely missing for almost two decades.
In the 1989-90 CIAU tournament the Mustangs were refused a wild card. With the season coming to an end there, Hayes decided, after many years of deliberation, that it was the right time for him to make a move from coaching to administration. His assistant, Craig Boydell, took over his position as head coach in the 1990-91 season.
The combination of Boydell, a number of promising players such as Stiefelmeyer and rookie Brendan Noonan, along with the lead up of a few successful years of tournaments set the stage for an exciting season in 1990-91. The Cage Mustangs came out of Craig Boydell’s first season coaching with an impressive record of twenty-nine wins and only three losses. At the CIAU tournament final in Halifax, the Mustangs beat the Guelph Gryphons 78-69, clinching the first national title in UWO basketball history.
The Mustangs made it to the national tournament level five more times during Boydell's time coaching, but were unable to gain the CIAU championship title again. Still, they continued to have enormously more success in these seasons than they had the previous two decades.
They rounded out the end of the twentieth-century with an Ontario University Athletics (OUA, formerly OUAA) west division championship win and then also went on to win the overall OUA championship. They stepped into the twenty-first century with their heads held high, winning the OUA championship once again in the 2000-01 season.