After a loss to Alabama in their first NCAA exhibition game, the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team responded with wins over New Hampshire and Canisius College.
On Monday, the team travelled to Montreal to play the UNH Wildcats at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf. The team was composed and comfortable in the early goings, meshing as unit throughout.
Brandon Robinson, playing in his hometown, continued to show his development. The fourth-year guard had 15 points in the 71-65 win. Fourth-year point guard Sean Stoqua was also solid shooting the ball, particularly showing his range from beyond the arc, scoring 15 on the night. First-year guard Chase Tynes showed his athleticism getting to the hoop, including two highlight dunks en route to a 9-point performance in his second game.
As UNH begun to make a run in the closing minutes, Robinson and Stoqua pushed the Gee-Gees over the edge to secure the 6-point win. “I thought defensively we did a really good job,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin. “It was the difference in the game, our turnovers were high and our shots weren’t falling, but we competed defensively. It’s good to know that we can lean on that a bit if our shots aren’t falling.”
On Tuesday, back at Montpetit Hall, the team blazed out to 32-8 lead in the first quarter that eventually carried them to a 85-74 win.
Three-pointers seemed to be the theme for the Gee-Gees, as Gage Sabean hit seven on the night to lead the team with 21 points. After finishing scoreless against UNH, Sabean responded with one of his most well-rounded performances in his career. While the guards had hot hands from distance, the Gee-Gee forwards had their hands full with the Golden Griffins’ athletic bigs.
Fourth-year forwards Brody Maracle and Mackenzie Morrison have done admirable jobs manning the paint without the services of Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles. “It’s an opportunity for Mack and I to get some more minutes,” said Maracle after his 17-point, 11-rebound performance. “I think these minutes will help us down the road in March.”
The team’s runaway offensive show from the first half was put to an abrupt stop as Canisius rallied to outscore uOttawa 37-11 in the third quarter. In the fourth, the Gee-Gees cracked down on defence and were able to slow the push from the NCAA squad.
“We know we need to do better,” said Maracle of the third quarter slide. “To be able to put a stop to it and come back and win by double-digits in August is a positive for us.”
With the win, the team improved to 2-1 against NCAA competition this preseason. One game remains on Aug. 28 against Ramapo College. The win also marks uOttawa’s tenth against NCAA teams since Derouin became head coach in 2010.
“There were some real positives in there tonight,” said Derouin. “Definitely some things we need to work on going forward, which is never a bad thing.”