Day one of action at the 39th annual Jack Donohue Tournament hosted by the University of Ottawa featured two games that went down to the wire. Ottawa needed overtime to top McGill 94-88 and Queen’s edged St. Francis-Xavier 74-73 in the tournament opener.
Johnny Berhanemeskel scored 23 points, including 11 in the extra period, to lift the Gee-Gees to their fourth straight pre-season win. It was hard-won as Ottawa encountered offensive lulls and a pair of hot-shooting Redmen in the form of freshmen Francois Bourque and Thomas Lacy.
Bourque, a 6-foot-5 small forward, shot 10-for-16 from the field on the way to his double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds. Lacy was the key McGill contributor to the three-point shootout down the stretch of the fourth quarter, making five in the game for a total of 19 points.
For Ottawa, the game was bookended by outstanding stretches by Berhanemeskel, who posted the garnet and grey’s first seven points. The Gee-Gees trailed 18-16 after the first quarter, but used a 23-point second to hold a 39-32 lead at halftime. McGill countered with a strong third stanza and re-took the lead 55-53 after thirty minutes.
McGill continued to lead until a Mehdi Tihani three-pointer put Ottawa up 66-64 with four minutes left in the fourth. Tihani was key for the Gee-Gees down the stretch, hitting two threes and getting to the rim for nine fourth-quarter points as the lead exchanged hands.
Berhanemeskel came alive again in the overtime, hitting two threes from the top of the key and slashing to the basket, while Vikas Gill sank his first three-pointer of the game to put Ottawa ahead 88-84.
In the opening game, Queen’s chipped away at a 42-37 halftime deficit and tied things up late in the fourth quarter, leading to a pressure-packed finish. Guards Jordan Clarke and Julius Antoine stretched things back out to a 5-point X-Men lead before missing their final two shots.
Sukhpreet Singh of the Gaels cut through the lane for a tough basket to draw within one at 73-72, and when a three-pointer by Clarke rattled out, sophomore Gaels guard Roshane Roberts collected the ball and calmly dribbled down court for the winning lay-in.
Greg Faulkner led all scorers with 21 points for Queen’s, while Clarke led the X-Men with 16.
Saturday’s action at the Jack Dohonue Tournament will feature Ottawa against St-FX at 6 p.m. and McGill will take on Queen’s in the 8 p.m. matchup. All tournament games are webcast live on SSN Canada.