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Syracuse dominate Ottawa in second half to take 73-50 victory

Saturday August 24, 2013
Richard A. Whittaker

Despite a great first half effort, the uOttawa Gee-Gees fell short 73-50 to the Syracuse Orangemen in front of a packed Monpetit Hall on Saturday night. Strong interior play by Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman was simply too much for uOttawa as they were a nuisance for the Gee-Gees all night.  

The score remained close after 20 minutes as Johnny Berhanemeskel fueled the Gee-Gees, creating multiple turnovers and adding 13 points in 20 minutes. The Orangemen on the other hand also had a hot start to the game, but cooled off when towering center DaJuan Coleman ran into foul trouble and was forced to sit out the majority of the first half.  

Berhanemeskel caught fire midway through the first, forcing three straight steals and adding seven consecutive points. The three point specialist led the way in scoring for the Gee-Gees as he finished the game with 15 points and six boards. Vikas Gill followed on the scoreboard with eight points, including two consecutive threes to open the scoring for the Gee-Gees.

“You hear about their famous zone defence and you are impressed but it’s not until you play against it that you realize just how effective it is,” said Gill. “Overall I think we are happy with our play against NCAA teams. It helps us take notice of our weaknesses and will without a doubt make us better heading into the season.”

After once again bringing the score to within two points midway through the first half, the Gee-Gees went cold nearing the end of the half. Syracuse was able to go on a 10-0 run and take a six point lead into the halftime break.

Syracuse quickly added to their lead coming out of the halftime break and wouldn’t let up throughout the half. Berhanemeskel appeared flat after halftime as he struggled in the early going, shooting 0-for-4 from the free throw line and scoring only two points in the half. Syracuse then turned to their post play for their scoring as Coleman continued to use his size advantage to create interior scoring for the Orange. Coleman finished the game with 26 points and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes of play for Syracuse.

From that point on things fell apart for Ottawa as they fell behind 54-30 midway through the second half. Fans witnessed the true powerhouse that is Syracuse as the Orangemen caught fire, scoring 39 second half points and eventually defeating Ottawa 73-50.

“I think we lost our grove after the halftime break. We were happy that we were within only six points when we should have been anxious to come out and take the lead. I think that threw us a bit off balance,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin.

Second-year guard Mehdi Tihani started in place of Mike L’Africain who suffered a concussion Thursday versus the Wisconsin Badgers. L’Africain led the way on the score sheet that game for Ottawa with 24 points and shot 3-for-3 from three point range.

“Mike is a special player and his shoes are hard to fill,” added Derouin. “Mehdi did a good job for us tonight but being the only point guard, he was really gassed by the end of the game and made uncharacteristic mistakes.”

The matchup marked the end of NCAA play for the Gee-Gees who finished with a record of 1-2, capturing a victory versus the Texas Christian University and dropping a close decision to the Wisconsin Badgers. The Gee-Gees pre-season action will continue versus the McGill Redman for the first game of the annual Jack Donohue tournament, which begins October 11th at 8 p.m at Montpetit Hall.