A seemingly impossible three-point bomb from Johnny Berhanemeskel with 0.3 seconds remaining in the game gave the no. 8 Gee-Gees a much needed seven point victory over the no. 6 Ryerson Rams on Saturday night.
As the Gee-Gees previously lost to the Rams by five points earlier this season, they needed to defeat Ryerson by six or more points in order to move ahead in the standings.
“It’s a great feeling to get this win for our program and for the guys who did so much for our program twenty years ago. They did so much for this team’s culture and history,” said Berhanemeskel on a night where the program honoured the 1992-93 Gee-Gees squad which won the Wilson Cup twenty years ago.
“I had a great feeling about tonight’s game. Our defence was the key for us, we did a great job of containing their transition and protecting the paint,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin. “We have had a lot of tough losses in this building in the past couple years so this win is huge for our players and for the entire program.”
It was an entertaining first half between the two high-scoring teams as they exchanged shots from long range. Johnny Berhanemeskel was hot from start-to-finish for the Gee-Gees as he shot 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in the first half. However, the Rams were also playing well as they took a three point lead into the half-time break.
The Gee-Gees came out of the break flying as Berhanemeskel stole the ball on defence which resulted in a break-away one-handed slam from the hands of Warren Ward at the other end of the court.
Berhanemeskel started the second half with two assist, two steals and a three pointer in only 2:30 minutes. As a result, the Gee-Gees were able to jump ahead to a 45-37 lead with 7:00 minutes remaining in the third frame. Ryerson wasted no time in responding as they continued to hit their shots from beyond the arc and ultimately brought the game to within six points at the end of the third quarter.
Ryerson pushed hard at the start of the fourth, twice narrowing the gap to two points. The turning point in the game came in the final three minutes when Vikas Gill hit an important shot from three point range, followed by a tough bucket in the paint from Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue which restored a seven point Ottawa advantage.
However, Ryerson allowed the clock to run down to 4.6 seconds before starting their final possession and Jordon Gauthier responded by hitting a turn-around trey, which narrowed the gap to four points.
After a timeout called by Derouin with 0.3 seconds remaining in the game, Berhanemeskel was able to hit the three-pointer which gave the Gee-Gees the seven point victory.
“Everything is just a blur right now, it happened so fast, but it’s a play I’ll never forget,” Berhanemeskel said after the game. “Right now we are really clicking and it couldn’t come at a better time of the year. The most important thing is going into March playing our best basketball.”
Berhanemeskel led all Gee-Gees in scoring with 23 points, four assists and six rebounds. Star forward Warren Ward also had an outstanding performance for Ottawa as he posted 18 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
Ryerson was led by Jahmal Jones and Gauthier, who netted 15 points each in the loss.
The Gee-Gees will return to Monpetit Hall next Saturday night as they look for their revenge versus Phillip Scrubb and the Carleton Ravens.
Score by period 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Ryerson 16 21 10 16 63
Ottawa 19 15 19 16 70