Men’s basketball (6-4 OUA)
@ York (0-10 OUA) on Saturday, January 7, 2012, at Tait McKenzie Centre
uOttawa leading scorers: Mike L’Africain 21 points, 4 assists, 4 steals, Johnny Berhanemeskel 16 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds
Without injured fourth-year star guard Warren Ward (London, ON), the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team faced the York Lions on the road on January 7. The scrappy Lions squad gave uOttawa all it could handle in the first half, but the Gee-Gees managed to pull away in the second half for a 92-71 win.
“That’s why you have 12 other guys on the team. Warren is a special player and he’s one of the best in the country, but other guys stepped up. There’s no excuses with this group and I thought we did well,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin.
The Gee-Gees number two scorer, second-year guard Johnny Berhanemeskel (Ottawa, ON) got off to a blazing start, scoring seven of Ottawa’s first 12 points, as the Gee-Gees took a 12-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Rookie forward Vikas Gill (Stittsville, ON) also had an excellent first quarter, scoring two three pointers and eight total points in the opening frame. Ottawa led 26-16 after one.
uOttawa’s frontcourt picked up the slack in the second quarter, as the Gee-Gees successfully drove to the hoop for easy baskets. However, York’s perimeter shooters caught fire from beyond the arc, as the Lions scored seven three pointers in the second quarter alone. York’s strong shooting led them to taking a short-lived 39-38 lead with three minutes to go in the half. The Gee-Gees did rebound to take a 41-39 advantage into the break.
“We let up defensively in the second quarter. I give a lot of credit to them as well, they got real hot there and made every shot. But I thought we regrouped in the second half and I think we dialled in defensively a little bit. I was happy with our effort in the second half.”
Thanks to rookie point guard Mike L’Africain (Oakville, ON), the Gee-Gees extended their lead to 67-58 at the end of three quarters. L’Africain neutralized York’s three point shooting with three treys of his own in the third quarter.
“The game was kind of good, but also kind of bad at the same time. We had that one really bad run, but the good thing about it is, we were able to gut it out as a team when the going got tough,” said L’Africain. “I stepped into my shots and hit them, but I also have to be more aggressive with the ball, because I wasn’t tonight.”
York would get as close as 76-69 in the fourth, but the resilient Gee-Gees eventually prevailed 92-71. Fourth-year guard Jacob Gibson-Bascombe (Toronto, ON) hit a crucial three halfway through the fourth quarter which turned the momentum towards Ottawa’s favour.
The Gee-Gees will now face the Toronto Varsity Blues and the Ryerson Rams on the road, January 13 to 14.