In their first game of the new 2012-2013 season the University of Ottawa’s men’s basketball team ran with the Rebels of UNLV. Many Rebel fans were in attendance for an entertaining game which saw the Gee-Gees jump out to a 45-42 first half lead before UNLV stormed back to take control in the second half.
Johnny Berhanemeskel was on fire throughout the first half, draining 22 points in the opening twenty minutes of action. Mike L’Africain and rookie Matt Plunkett also hit double digits for the Gee-Gees, finishing with 17 and 10, respectively.
“Johnny has worked really hard this summer to be a more creative offensive player. He’s evolved from being a spot up shooter and he showed what he’s capable of today,” said head coach James Derouin of Berhanemeskel’s performance.
Plunkett was one of five rookies to make their uOttawa debut in the game; Moe Ismail picked up six points and Matt Nelson showed a smooth finish under the basket with four points. Caleb Agada (three rebounds, three points) and Mehdi Tihani (two points, one assist) also got some minutes at the guard spots, contributing to the high energy pace.
“The opportunities to play these games in August are very important, especially for our rookies who got a chance to play their first game today. I think we liked what we saw [from the rookies]. That’s a tough team and the rookies showed a little bit of what they can do against very athletic and talented players,” summed up Derouin.
Sophomore guard Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 18 points and freshman wing Savon Goodman added 17 for UNLV.
The Gee-Gees will return to the floor for their second and final NCAA exhibition game of the season on Monday evening against Northeastern University. Game time is 7 p.m. at Montpetit Hall and the game will be broadcast on SSN Canada.