The intensity was ratcheted up once more in the saga that is the men’s basketball rivalry between the Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens and Saturday night’s first installment of the 2015-16 season required a breath-taking final two minutes to determine a winner. Fifth-year point guard Mike L’Africain came through as the hero with the game-winning shot, putting Ottawa ahead for good 75-73 with 46 seconds remaining.
L’Africain was in position to give Ottawa, now 8-0 in regular season play, the win after a pair of Caleb Agada free throws had tied the game. The Gee-Gees went on a 9-2 run to close out the game, aided by tremendous defensive rebounding. Agada finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds and L’Africain counted 17 points and 6 assists.
Ottawa’s fifth-year point guard brought the ball down the court then accelerated into the paint on the left, spinning to clear space for a fade-away jumper. “As soon as I jumped, I knew it was money. It’s one of my favourite shots to take and I was working on it all week in my head,” said L’Africain. “It’s a statement win but to us it doesn’t mean anything until we get to the last game.”
“Our defence kept us close and rebounding was the stat that changed the game today,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin. “Matt Plunkett played tough, with an edge under the rim that allowed him to come away with big two handed rebounds - that made a difference.”
“I was just boxing out my guy and Caleb came flying in,” said Plunkett of a key rebound in the final possessions. “We know Carleton is a physical team and you have to come in prepared to get hit. We kept our heads and didn’t get rattled by it, especially in the clutch.”
Kaza Kajami-Keane of the Ravens led all scorers with 24 points, backed up by 20 from Guillaume Boucard.
The lead changed hands nine times in the game. Ottawa led by four midway through the second quarter, coming back from a 22-13 which was Carleton’s largest lead, one minute into the frame. Caleb Agada made an electrifying sprint down the court after stripping Marcus Anderson of the ball, beating the buzzer with a two-handed dunk.
“Winning in this gym is certainly something that we wanted to check off our list,” acknowledged Derouin. “We kept composed defensively, getting stops and winning the rebounding. I’m hoping that our veterans now that have been here for all three wins over them know that the job is not done.”
The Gee-Gees will travel to Toronto next weekend, facing the Varsity Blues (3-4), and the Ryerson Rams (6-1).