The uOttawa Gee-Gees tipped-off their 2014 pre-season on Sunday afternoon with a contest against the NCAA’s Indiana Hoosiers, a match-up that took place at Champlain College in Montreal and turned out to be a down to the wire affair between the two sides. After a slow start to the second half, the Gee-Gees were able to pull off the victory and downed the Hoosiers 109-101.
Vikas Gill played a major role in the win for the Gee-Gees coming in late in the game and hitting timely three-pointers for uOttawa. Making it even more impressive was that fact that he did so while playing at center for Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue who fouled out with 3:03 remaining in the game.
“It was great to play against this type of competition and get a win. These guys are so skilled and so fast so playing against them is a great way to start our season because we will be playing against teams like this later in the season,” said Gill who finished the game with 21 points and 7-8 shooting from downtown. “It’s important to come into big games and hit big shots like we did today because it’s a long season and you never know who is going to be in foul trouble or hurt so we have to be able to rely on each other in those moments.”
Mike L’Africain and Johnny Berhanemeskel led the way on the score sheet for the Gee-Gees with 27 points each. Caleb Agada also contributed to the win with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double.
“It’s a big win - I’m proud of the guys today. They came in and hit some big shots against an incredible team with a great program,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin. “I have a lot of respect for Tom Crean and what he has done at Indiana. Now we have to come back out tomorrow and do the same thing. We will be playing more good teams so hopefully we can just keep the ball rolling and work off of today.”
“They were excellent and we knew they would be. We made a lot of adjustments in terms of matchups, but we didn’t lose the game on offense – we lost it because we were fatigued defensively,” noted Indiana head coach Tom Crean. “They’re so well coached – I was sitting there saying ‘I could see us running this’ – but they knew how to play at that pace and how to defend at that pace.”
After falling behind early-on, the Hoosiers came storming back in the second quarter with a barrage of points in the paint, scoring 32 points in the frame. The Gee-Gees showed a high compete level against the Big Ten competitor, holding the score to 52-52 at the half-time break.
Indiana’s Troy Williams did a good job of exposing the Gee-Gees weaknesses and most specifically in the paint as he attacked the basket with relative ease throughout the game, tallying 27 points. James Blackmon Jr. also chipped in for the Hoosiers with 20 points and five boards. uOttawa will need to work on their defensive rotations to keep teams from exposing them inside as they continue their pre-season.
After a slow start to the second half, the Gee-Gees were able to gain some momentum by the end of the third quarter as they re-took a 73-71 lead with 3:06 remaining in the frame. The teams continued to trade buckets throughout the fourth frame, with no team leading by more than five at any point until the very end of the game.
It was not until the final three minutes that the Gee-Gees started to pull ahead thanks to a flurry of three-pointers, something that has become somewhat of a trademark in Gee-Gees basketball. Ottawa was also able to make some big stops on the defensive end which allowed them to pull ahead offensively.
The Hoosiers were able to come up with some last minute steals while pressing to come within six points of uOttawa. Still, it was not enough as the Gee-Gees took the 109-101 victory after making good at the charity stripe to put the game out of reach for Indiana.
The win was the second straight time that uOttawa begins the season with a win over NCAA competition, having topped Texas Christian University to open the schedule in 2013.
The Gee-Gees will be back in action tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at Montpetit Hall when the University of Vermont comes to town.