The U SPORTS seventh-ranked Gee-Gees men’s basketball team was able to get some extra rest ahead of their playoff opener on Saturday, thanks to securing a first-round bye with the OUA East’s second seed.
Though they had to wait until Wednesday night to find out what team they would take on, it did not much matter in terms of preparation, they were going to face a familiar foe, whether it be Ryerson or Queen’s. Ultimately, the U SPORTS eighth-ranked Rams defended their home floor and punched their ticket to Ottawa for a playoff tilt with the Gee-Gees for the fifth consecutive season.
Every time Ottawa and Ryerson match up, there is bound to be a classic in store. The two have produced a number of exhilarating matchups over the last handful of years, and this year’s meeting looks to be no different.
The team’s split their two meetings this season, the first of which came at Montpetit Hall to open the second semester of play. The Rams threw the first punch in the game, but it was a monstrous run in the third quarter that gave the Gee-Gees an eight-point 81-73 win. Later last month, the Gee-Gees were seconds away from securing their second win when a missed free throw and a freak three-pointer sent the game into overtime, where the Rams secured a three-point 95-92 win.
With identical 17-6 records to close the regular season, and back-to-back rankings in the U SPORTS Top 10, the rivalry is as competitive as ever coming into another chapter.
In both games, the Gee-Gees a shot better percent from the field, hitting 51.7 per cent in the first game, and 48.4 in the second. With the teams being the worst free throw shooting lineups in the OUA, the Rams had the edge in both games, something that the Gee-Gees need to correct.
Limiting turnovers on offence and stifling three-pointer opportunities is essential in defeating the Rams. Particularly with Ryerson guard Manny Diressa being one of the most dangerous weapons in the nation, he will once again be the focus of Brandon Robinson, one of the Gee-Gees’ best defenders. The goal will be to limit him to the 13 points he scored in the first meeting, rather than the 41 in the second.
For the Gee-Gees, Brody Maracle seems to be the key for the Gee-Gees against the Rams, this season, he has turned in 18 and 17-point performances, 15 total rebounds, and five assists in the two games. Calvin Epistola, now running the point for the Gee-Gees in the absence of Sean Stoqua, will look to match his massive 20-point performance against the Rams in their last meeting. Epistola is averaging 13.3 points per game since his playing time increased and will help keep the Gee-Gees attack at a lightning fast pace.
Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles will need to have a better offensive performance than his six points in the last meeting, however his lack of scoring was made up for in rebounding where he notched 11. There is plenty room for a more dominant performance from one of the nation’s top forwards, particularly as he was absent from the early January win with an ankle injury.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Montpetit Hall and will be streaming live on OUA.tv. Tickets are available online at tickets.geegees.ca.