With files from Andrea Elliott, organizing committee
March 14, 2015
TORONTO (CIS) – The No. 3 Ottawa Gee-Gees stormed back from a 10-point third quarter deficit to knock off the No. 7 Ryerson Rams 84-75 in semifinal action on Saturday night to punch their ticket to the 2015 ArcelorMittal Dofasco CIS Final 8 men’s basketball championship game, at the Mattamy Centre.
Ottawa’s Vikas Gill (Stittsville, Ont.) was a difference maker for the Gee-Gees, finishing with 18 points – which tied his season best - on 6-of-11 shooting including 5-of-7 from three-point range. The fourth-year forward, who had 13 of his points in the third quarter, was named the player of the game for his performance.
The two teams slugged it out offensively in the first quarter, combining for 47 points in the first 10 minutes of play. Ottawa led 25-22 heading into the second.
Ryerson’s defence stepped up in the second quarter, started by drawing back-to-back charge calls which the Rams converted into points. An Adika Peter-McNeilly floater in the lane gave the Rams their first lead of the game at 27-26 with 7:35 to play. Ryerson fed off the hometown crowd’s energy and had built a seven point lead just 1:30 later. The seven point spread held at halftime with the Rams leading 45-36.
One of the game’s two key moments came early in the third quarter when Ryerson’s Aaron Best missed an uncontested dunk which was then transitioned into a Gill three-pointer.
“We were struggling on offence in the first half and just needed some kind of lift,” said Gill following the game. “We got lucky, Best is very athletic and he just missed the dunk which gave us transition numbers which was huge. It gave us the momentum we needed and quieted the crowd down a little.”
Gill then took over the quarter, netting 13 points in the frame. At the end of the quarter the Rams’ lead had disappeared and the Gee-Gees held a 61-57 lead after dominating the period 25-12.
“He turned the game around in that third quarter – it gave us a huge lift,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin. “I told the guys that we were going to go down firing threes – that’s our identity. Vik went out there and did it.”
In the fourth, the teams traded blows and with 3:50 to play, Ryerson’s Peter-McNeilly connected from three-point territory to tie the game at 67-67. On the ensuing defensive stand, Peter-McNeilly picked up his fifth foul, marking the second turning point in the game. The third year-guard finished with a team-high 17 points and his scoring touch was missed down the stretch.
Ottawa scored five straight points to take a 76-69 lead with a minute to go and the Gee-Gees sealed the victory with some clutch free throw shooting to nullify a pair of Rams three-pointers.
“The game was won on the defensive glass in that second half. All the guys were flying in there because we had to get back in the fight,” said Derouin.
“It’s an emotional time,” said Ryerson bench boss Roy Rana following the loss. “I feel for our guys... I wish it could have been a different result but that’s sports. Sometimes there’s great glory and sometimes it’s great heartbreak. For us tonight it’s heartbreak... but we’re going to try and chase bronze tomorrow.”
The Gee-Gees return to the national championship game for the second straight year and the second time in program history - where they will once again face the No. 1 ranked Carleton Ravens, who defeated Ottawa 79-67 in last year’s CIS final. The duel is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, live on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet ONE.
The last time the same two teams met in consecutive national finals was in 2000 and 2001, when StFX beat Brandon to win back-to-back W.P. McGee Trophies. Victoria and Waterloo also met in back-to-back finals, in 1985 and 1986, with UVic prevailing on both occasions.
Official Boxscore: STATS
OTT 25-11-25-23: 84
RYE 22-23-12-18: 75
Points: Johnny Berhanemeskel (20), Vikas Gill (18), Mike L’Africain (13)
Rebounds: Caleb Agada (8), Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue (7)
Assists: Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue (5)
Player of the game: Vikas Gill
Points: Adika Peter-McNeilly (17), Jordon Gauthier (14), Jean-Victor Mukama (12), Aaron Best (12)
Rebounds: Aaron Best (9), Jean-Victor Mukama (7)
Assists: Jahmal Jones (7)
Player of the game: Jean-Victor Mukama
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS
Thursday, March 12
11:00 Quarter-final 1: No. 1 Carleton 90, No. 8 Saskatchewan 50
13:00 Quarter-final 2: No. 4 Victoria 57, No. 5 Dalhousie 56
18:00 Quarter-final 3: No. 7 Ryerson 82, No. 2 Windsor 68
20:00 Quarter-final 4: No. 3 Ottawa 91, No. 6 Bishop’s 85 (OT)
Friday, March 13
14:00 Consolation 1: Saskatchewan 90, Dalhousie 79
16:00 Consolation 2: Windsor 91, Bishop’s 80
Saturday, March 14
14:00 5th-place game: Saskatchewan 99, Windsor 94
18:00 Semifinal 1: Carleton 83, Victoria 74
20:30 Semifinal 2: Ottawa 84, Ryerson 75
Sunday, March 15
11:30 Bronze: Victoria vs. Ryerson (Rogers TV / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *
15:00 Final: Carleton vs. Ottawa (Sportsnet 360 & ONE / www.CIS-SIC.tv) **
* Rogers TV, Rogers TV Sports +, Super Sports Pak.
** The webcast of the semifinals & final are on pay-per-view basis.