The Gee-Gees will begin their run for the OUA championship on Saturday night when they battle the Ryerson Rams at Monpetit Hall. Despite suffering a heartbreaking triple overtime loss at the hands of the Carleton Ravens last week, the Gee-Gees appear to be playing their best basketball of the season and will look to continue their stellar play versus the Rams.
“Our goal since the beginning of the season has been to be playing our best basketball come playoff time. I believe that right now, this team is where I want it to be, it’s just a matter of executing when it matters and we have been doing that well,” said head coach James Derouin.
The regular season series is knotted at 1-and-1 between the squads, as each team was able to win on home turf. If the Gee-Gees are to come out with the victory, they will need to shut down Ryerson’s high scoring trio; Jordon Gauthier, Jahmal Jones and Aaron Best who provided most of the scoring during the regular season for the Rams.
“Last time we played them, I thought we did a good job of containing their big three, especially in transition. All three of these guys have the ability to get hot and put up big numbers so we just have to try to limit them offensively by playing good defence and reading their plays,” Derouin said.
It was Jones who led the Rams with 26 points in their 83-77 victory over the York Lions in Wednesday’s opening round of the OUA playoffs. Gauthier also had a big night, netting 20 points and seven rebounds on a night which saw the Rams shoot 49 per cent from the field and take a remarkable 32 free throws.
The Rams will rely on their inside attack as they are ranked 42nd in the country in three point shooting percentage with 28.8 per cent. However, they were able to limit their opponents to only 30.0 per cent shooting from beyond the arc during the regular season, through strong perimeter defence.
Nonetheless, the Rams will have their hands full as the Gee-Gees have shot extremely well from beyond the arc and are ranked third in the country in three-point shooting with 40.2 per cent. Johnny Berhanemeskel led the way, finishing the season in seventh place in the CIS in three point shooting percentage with 47.9 per cent and first in the nation in three pointers made per game. Berhanemeskel broke his own uOttawa record for three-pointers in a season by hitting 70 this year, which also ties the OUA record set by McMaster’s Rob Scully in 2003.
Home court advantage will be a key advantage for the Gee-Gees as they have posted an 8-and-2 home court record this season. “Playing at home is huge for us because we get an extra day of rest and we don’t have to travel. But what matters to us most is the home crowd. The support has been great all year and has really motivated us, it just makes a home game that much more special for us,” Derouin said.
The Gee-Gees are looking to return to the OUA Final Four after falling to the Rams in last year’s OUA quarter final. Saturday’s game will be broadcast on SSN Canada.