After scoring 100 plus points in eleven regular season games this year, the high octane Gee-Gees were able to break the centennial barrier once again in the post season defeating the Marauders 101-68 in the OUA semi-final at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre. uOttawa shot 56.7 per cent from the field in the game, displaying their offensive abilities to the Toronto crowd.
With the win the Gee-Gees have officially guaranteed their participation in the CIS Final Eight Championship which will showcase the country’s top eight teams. The tournament will span out over three days, March 6-9, under the bright lights of the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
uOttawa will return to the court tomorrow evening when they battle the reigning CIS and OUA champions, the Carleton Ravens for the Ontario championship banner. The Ottawa rivalry was won by the Ravens in the regular season, sweeping the Gee-Gees two games to none. uOttawa will try to stop the Ravens from capturing a third consecutive Wilson Cup while attempting to win their first since 1992-93. The game will tip-off at 6 p.m. tomorrow evening and will be broadcast live by Sportsnet ONE.
The Gee-Gees appeared to have a clear game plan on Friday night: attack the paint. It worked out well as they went on a 19-8 run to open the first quarter. They continued their strong play in the second quarter, extending their lead to as much as 21 points by the midway point of the second frame. McMaster head coach and OUA West Coach of the Year, Amos Connolly called a timeout to calm his troops in the second frame but to no avail as the Gee-Gees carried a 24 point lead into the halftime break.
After allowing on 69.1 points per game during the regular season, McMaster had much difficulty in maintaining those habits against the Gee-Gees, allowing 57 points in first half alone.
Mike L’Africain responded well after shooting 0-5 from long range in uOttawa’s last game against the Ryerson Rams. The third year came in with evident confidence as he shot 5-7 from beyond the arc and notched 19 points. “I hit the gym like crazy heading into this game and just took shot after shot. I wanted to make sure that I was ready because I knew that I couldn’t afford to have an off game at this stage of the season,” said L’Africain.
“We shot well as a team tonight and we want to carry that over to tomorrow night,” continued the point guard. “We know that we are a very hard team to beat when we are playing well on offence and defence. We have not let Carleton get in our heads. We have to play the Gee-Gees brand of basketball and play our game and we will be fine.”
Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue’s presence in the game might not be obvious when looking at the score sheet however the Gatineau native must be praised for his outstanding defensive effort on McMaster’s OUA West first team all-star post Taylor Black who was held scoreless in 14 minutes of play. Gonthier-Dubue still managed to finish the game with seven points and nine rebounds.
The second half was more of the same as the Gee-Gees were able to run up their lead to a game high 36 points midway through the final quarter. The Marauders could not shake their cold shooting, going 37.3 per cent on the night, and uOttawa’s strong defence was a key factor in the big win - something James Derouin has preached to his squad all season long.
“The guys came out very well. I was thrilled with the way our starting five established themselves right out of the gates because that really carried for the rest of the game,” said Derouin. “We have a lot of adjustments to make for tomorrow now. Carleton plays a different style than McMaster so we will have to make those changes. We had some great practice today so the plan is to do the same tomorrow and come out ready.”
Johnny Berhanemeskel was in his usual form for the garnet and grey tallying a team leading 26 points and three assists. The fourth year guard will be essential to Gee-Gees if they are to defeat the powerhouse Carleton Ravens tomorrow night.
“We need to work on the defensive glass or else it will be a big issue tomorrow night. There are some good things we can take from tonight going into the game tomorrow. We did a good job of attacking and finishing off possessions so we have to keep that up,” said Berhanemeskel.
“We wanted to take care of business tonight so we didn’t end up fighting for our lives and for a bronze medal tomorrow. With that said now we want to win a Wilson Cup.”
Nathan McCarthy and Trevon McNeil led McMaster with 14 respectively. Adam Presutti added 13 points and five rebounds.
The Carleton Ravens defeated the Windsor Lancers 84-71 earlier in the day to advance to the OUA final. Defence was the story in this game as the Lancers shot 38 per cent from the field in the game and struggled to heat up to form any kind of significant run. The Scrubb brothers combined for a total of 41 points with Philip Scrubb leading all scorers at 24. Enrico Diloreto led the way for the Lancers posting 17 points and five rebounds.