In January, the matchup between two of the nation’s best teams ended in an eight-point victory for Laurentian at Montpetit Hall, however, on Friday, the Gee-Gees flipped the script and handed the Voyageurs a nine-point 99-90 loss in Sudbury, Ont.
Following a draining battle with the Carleton Ravens at Capital Hoops, the first leg of the Gee-Gees’ Northern Ontario provided an opportunity to shake up the national rankings and the OUA East playoff landscape.
In January’s matchup, the teams battled back and forth throughout the first three quarters, winding up tied at the end of the first and second quarters, while Laurentian held a one-point lead going into the fourth. In an eerily similar affair early, the teams were tied 19-19 after the first, Laurentian held a one-point 43-42 lead at the half.
Everything changed for the Gee-Gees in the final two frames, where offensive rhythm and defensive aggression enabled the team to take the lead and run with it.
Attacking Laurentian’s undersized forwards was successful for the Gee-Gees, Brody Maracle and Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles established a physical presence, and Kenny Jean-Louis provided a high-percentage scoring touch, the Ottawa bigs were a key difference in the game.
In his first game assuming the regular starting point guard role, third-year Calvin Epistola had a transcendent performance, leading the team with 22 points, and tacking on five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Epistola added the ability to both facilitate and attack the basket on each possession, but it was his four three-pointers that was back-breaking for the Voyageurs.
In addition to Epistola’s performance, Jean-Louis had his best game in a Gee-Gees uniform scoring 20 points, and pulling down six rebounds, topping it off with two assists. Maracle and Gage Sabean had 15 points each, while Brandon Robinson scored 13, and Pierre-Charles rounded out the six Ottawa players in double-digits with 12 points.
One effort that cannot go unnoticed was the efficacy of Ottawa’s free-throw shooting. Entering the game ranked worst in the OUA, the Gee-Gees went 16-18 shooting 88.9 per cent, besting the top-ranked Voyageurs’ 85.7 per cent on the night.
On Saturday, the Gee-Gees will travel to North Bay for a matchup with the scrappy Nipissing Lakers in the team’s final regular season road game. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. and will be streaming live on OUA.tv.