The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team enjoyed almost a perfect seniors’ night, winning its final regular season home game 109-79 over the Laurier Golden Hawks while receiving significant contributions from its four senior players.
Fifth-year point guard Mike L’Africain led all scorers with 23, at the head of the pack of six Gee-Gees in double-digit scoring. L’Africain had 15 in the first half alone, also counting five assists in the opening twenty minutes. That set up a countdown in the third quarter, with all eyes on the point guard’s distribution.
Midway through the third quarter, with Ottawa leading by twenty-three, L’Africain picked up his 380th career assist on a bucket by fellow fifth-year Vikas Gill, passing Josh Gibson-Bascombe at the top of the all-time records list at uOttawa. L’Africain finished the night with 10 assists in the contest.
“I told Mike I wanted it too,” laughed Gill, who has shared the floor with L’Africain for their five seasons in garnet and grey. “He said, alright we’ll see what I can do. When I heard it announced it was a really special moment – I love that kid.”
“It’s my favourite stat, so it’s a perfect one for me to get,” said L'Africain. "These guys want me to be successful and vice versa, so it makes it easy because everyone is unselfish.”
“We play better anyway when guys are just catching and shooting off of Mike’s penetration,” noted Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin. "So we talked about [the record] but I don’t think we changed anything to get him there. Mike had another awesome game tonight. The record is his and its well-deserved."
Another senior night highlight was Zach Traer opening the game with a pair of threes. The three-pointers were falling for the whole team in the first quarter – five of the first six went down - opening up a 31-9 lead.
“There’s no better feeling, especially getting one from Mike to help him out on his special night with the assists,” said Traer. “For me, I’ve taken a different role and I am fine with that because I know I’m part of this family.”
“Zach hitting those shots set the tone that something good was going to happen tonight,” said Derouin with a smile. “Zach’s a huge part of our team and it was really great to see him hit those shots tonight.”
Mehdi Tihani was also recognized during senior night, and finished with 11 points and two assists.
Laurier’s younger guards Chuder Teny and Sydney Davis brought some energy and dropped shots to make it 33-20 at the end of one. The pair finished with 12 points apiece, while Vlad Matovic led the Hawks with 16 points and eight rebounds.
The early lead held for Ottawa, and only grew as the game went on. The Gee-Gees shot 54 per cent in the game and cracked the 100-point plateau with five minutes left to play. The final point tally is the regular season high for the garnet and grey.
“It really celebrated the five years,” said Gill. "When I subbed off it hit me that it’s almost over, and it was a little surreal."