The no. 3 ranked Gee-Gees edged out the Lakehead Thunderwolves 80-75 in a fourth-quarter battle in Thunder Bay which came down to the final possessions. Ottawa used a ten point swing at the beginning of the fourth quarter to prevent the upset, lifting their record to 4-0 while Lakehead falls to 1-3.
Medhi Tihani put Ottawa in front 76-75 by attacking the lane from the top, shifting on the baseline to score a reverse lay-in with 25.7 seconds left on the clock. Vikas Gill then reined in the crucial defensive rebound at the other end when Lakehead’s effort missed. The third-year forward calmly strode down the court to the free throw line and sank two shots to seal the victory.
“Their strength is their paint play,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin, underscoring the importance of Gill’s rebound. “We got dominated on the offensive glass all game, but it’s a testament to the guys that they stuck together and gutted this one out. It was a gritty performance.”
Another key moment came with 3.4 seconds left on the first half clock. The Gee-Gees executed an end-to-end inbounds play, getting the ball up to Mike L’Africain who drained a three-pointer to give Ottawa a 34-31 halftime lead. “Medhi saw him there and the spacing worked out well,” explained Derouin. “That’s just those guys playing together and having the chemistry to make that happen.”
The visitors fell behind by as many as eight in the third, and the lead quickly stretched out to 11 at the start of the fourth before a L’Africain transition three and a defensive stop keyed the rally which turned the game around for Ottawa.
Johnny Berhanemeskel led all scorers with 25 points and was backed up by 19 from Caleb Agada. Tihani finished the game with 12 points and five rebounds. The Tunderwolves were powered by big man Anthony McIntosh, who scored 17 points down low.
The Gee-Gees defence worked a full-court pressure on and off in the fourth which provided the boost Ottawa needed. “We felt that the game was being played at their pace at that point,” said Derouin, referring to the third quarter. “The press sped the game up and allowed us to play.”
From the pressure, Tihani stroked a corner three and Berhanemeskel chased down a long pass to find Jeff Plunkett trailing for an easy transition layup, and the Gee-Gees were in position to take the lead.
The Gee-Gees will hit the road again next week, travelling to Brock (0-4) and McMaster (3-1) to complete the away portion of their interlock schedule with the OUA West.
1 2 3 4 F
Ottawa 12 22 17 29 80
Lakehead 20 11 27 17 75