The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team hosted the Alabama Crimson Tide at Montpetit Hall on Thursday night, falling by a final score of 81-71. The difference was a 22-11 second quarter after Ottawa raced out to an early lead. Alabama had six players in double-digit scoring led by 15 points from Avery Johnson Jr.
Gage Sabean had the hot hand early for Ottawa, sinking four three-pointers in the first half alone. He finished with five treys and 17 total points to lead the Garnet and Grey, while Brody Maracle showed off his touch inside going 8-for-10 and contributing 16 points along with a game-high 10 rebounds.
Sabean was one of several Gee-Gees playing in new roles this game; the second-year entered the starting lineup for the first time while six newcomers to the roster appeared on the Montpetit court.
“I think that everyone that got out there played hard,” said Sabean, who hails from Port Williams, N.S. “If you give effort you’re going to be right there in the game. The more opportunity I have to play the more I’ll feel comfortable – it feels a lot different this year for sure.”
Sean Stoqua joined Sabean in the starting lineup and played a solid 28 minutes at the point, dishing out five assists along with 10 points.
“I think we showed some really good signs playing together as a team, offensively moving the ball,” said Stoqua, who has not stepped to a U SPORTS court in two and a half years. “We only have team guys here and I think that showed today. I’m really excited about how well we’ve gelled already.”
Kenny Jean-Louis, Chase Tynes, and Borys Minger all found their way to the basket and onto the scoresheet in their Gee-Gees debut, with Josh Stephens and Jackson Mayers also appearing for the first time. Tynes showed his distribution skills and also picked up his first bucket after picking the pocket of Braxton Key at midcourt as part of a Gee-Gees run in the third quarter.
The hosts led 23-18 at the end of the first quarter, before Alabama went on a 12-4 run to open the second stanza, including a pair of impressive dunks.
Ottawa bounced back in the third, outscoring the Tide 19-18, and trailed by just five points with two minutes left in the game. The capacity crowd roared to its feet after Stoqua made a huge three-pointer on an offensive rebound, giving the Gee-Gees late life with the score at 74-69. Alabama stretched the lead back out to 78-71 before uOttawa started sending them to the line.
“We were playing so well, moving the ball, sharing it, pushing the transition and getting good looks,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin of the opening quarter. “Then we had four or five possessions in a row with no passes, early shots, and they got their transition game going off our bad decisions. The rest of the way I was happy with the looks we got. We competed and stayed in it – just couldn’t get a defensive rebound when we needed it at the end there.”
Of note, Alabama’s highly touted freshman Collin Sexton did not appear in the game. Braxton Key, who led the Tide in scoring last season, notched 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Alabama out-rebounded the Gee-Gees by a 54-43 margin.
“Whenever we had a good stop they seemed to fly in and get a tip-in off the o-board or grab another o-board,” noted Derouin. “Brody did everything he could but we were definitely overmatched on the glass.”
Ottawa will have a one-week break before travelling to Montreal to take on the New Hampshire Wildcats on August 21 and will host the Canisius Golden Griffins on August 22 at Montpetit Hall.