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NCAA win opens basketball season

Friday August 9, 2013
Richard Whittaker

The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team began their 2013-14 with a little bit of history by recording the program’s largest ever victory over an NCAA school in a 90-74 win over Texas Christian University on Friday night. It was the third Gee-Gees win over NCAA competition, but the first since 2006 when the Canadians topped Lasalle 89-88.

“Any time you can beat a team as talented as that and from a conference like the Big 12 is special. I’m proud of the way the guys played. We shot the ball well and moved it quickly,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin.

Ottawa received contributions from all over the floor, but returned to their three-point shooting ways from last season to power past the Horned Frogs in the second half. The garnet and grey sank 18 three-pointers as a team, led by Vikas Gill and Johnny Berhanemeskel, who netted six apiece. It was a new career-high in threes for Gill, who shot 6-7 from behind the arc and finished the game with 20 points.

Berhanemeskel led all scorers with 26 points, while second-year wing Caleb Agada paced the team with seven rebounds. Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue scored 13 points and Mike L’Africain added 11 as the other Gee-Gees in double-digit scoring.  L’Africain handled the point guard duties for much of the evening, notching six assists and only one turnover in 35 minutes of action.

“It felt good, everyone on the team worked hard and played unselfish basketball with each other,” said Berhanemeskel, who is beginning his fourth season. “I feel like we have enough skill to keep up with top teams. It doesn’t matter which team we play – if we win or lose it’s because of how we play as a group.”

TCU took an early 15-7 lead thanks to hot shooting out of the gate and then held off a 7-0 Ottawa run and quickly took a double-digit lead as things moved into the “second quarter” (the game was played as two twenty minute halves). Ottawa then picked up back-to-back buckets in transition following turnovers, including a rare dunk from Berhanemeskel. The 6-foot-2 guard flushed a left-hander before Gonthier-Dubue put a spin move on his trailing defender to convert and the scored stood at 32-27 in favour of the visitors.

The Gee-Gees then turned to their three-point shooting to go on a run and establish a 42-39 lead at halftime. Berhanemeskel had 17 first half points.

Ottawa lengthened its lead to 56-43 during the first five minutes of the second half, with Vikas Gill providing the long-range threat. Gill absolutely caught fire, hitting five straight threes.

TCU’s freshman centre Karviar Shepherd also showed some scoring touch in the second half, finishing the game with a team-high 13 points.

However, Ottawa stayed ahead by ten points throughout the second half until there were seven minutes to play. Solid team rebounding on the defensive end and inside scoring from Gonthier-Dubue allowed Ottawa to build to an 84-67 lead with four minutes to play, putting the Horned Frogs away.

The Gee-Gees will have two weeks to prepare for their next NCAA series, when the Wisconsin Badgers and the Syracuse Orangemen will visit Montpetit Hall on August 22nd and 24th, respectively.