It is difficult to draw the line between the Ryerson Rams and the uOttawa Gee-Gees, as every time they meet on the court a sure fire thriller can be expected. In yet another down to the wire game, it was a career best performance by Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue that pushed Ottawa past the Rams by 74-70.
“I’m so proud of Gab. He really was the difference because once he gets into a rhythm like he did tonight it’s so hard to stop him. He is just so relentless,” said head coach James Derouin. “He really represents everything that’s good about uOttawa and this basketball program. He is one of our best students, he’s a bilingual kid and I just love him to death, he really deserves so much high praise.”
Despite recording 20 points, Ryerson’s Aaron Best struggled as he shot 9-for-26 on the night. After eliminating Ottawa from the playoffs on home court last season, the Rams will suffer the same pain, as the favour was returned by the Gee-Gees this year.
After a neck-and-neck first half, both teams battled hard at the end of the second quarter in what appeared to be a competition for the half-time lead. With two minutes remaining in the first half, the Rams took the lead when Aaron Best hit three free throws after being fouled on a long three.
The Gee-Gees quickly responded with a three from Vikas Gill and took a one point lead with seconds remaining in the frame. However, the Ryerson’s Ostap Choliy was able to hit a lobbed three pointer to beat the buzzer and take a 33-32 lead into half-time.
Ottawa started the second half with a flurry of shots inside and were able to maintain a lead for most of the third frame. Gonthier-Dubue was dominant in the paint during the third quarter. He appeared to spark Ottawa’s offence as he poured in nine points in an eight minute time frame.
After hanging on to the lead for the majority of the fourth quarter the Gee-Gees lost the lead with 3:29 remaining, when Best drained a long three to take a one point lead. Ottawa quickly responded after a timeout and retook the lead thanks to series of clutch plays inside by Gonthier-Dubue and Gill.
The decisive moment came when Mike L’Africain hit a three pointer thanks to an ankle breaking move that left him open from long range. The basket put Ottawa ahead by three points with one minute remaining in the game. With 10.4 seconds remaining Ottawa’s Johnny Berhanemeskel was able to seal the win with a steal which allowed the Gee-Gees to regain possession and ultimately hold on for the victory.
“I’m very happy with our performance tonight because it was a scrappy game and it wasn’t pretty. Those are the games that we have struggled with in the past so it shows how our team is moving forward,” Derouin said.
Gonthier-Dubue led all Gee-Gees in scoring as he finished the game with 31 points, seven rebounds and 7-for-11 shooting from the charity stripe. Despite having an off night from long range, Warren Ward contributed with 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
“We worked so hard all year and I made so many sacrifices to come play here. Today was a due or die game so I just put my heart into it and gave it my all. I’m just happy that we proved that we are not a team to be taken lightly,” said Gonthier-Dubue.
Ottawa will now head to the OUA Final Four to compete for the Wilson Cup at Ryerson University this coming Friday and Saturday. Ottawa will face the Windsor Lancers in the provincial semifinal on Friday night.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Ryerson 16 17 15 22 70
Ottawa 18 14 18 24 74