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Memphis Tigers roar back with 104-89 win over Ottawa Gees-Gees

Ottawa, Ont – The Memphis Tigers continued to improve and show signs of a team coming together with a dominant second-half performance to defeat the Ottawa Gee-Gees 104-89 in a high-scoring NCAA/CIS preseason affair at Montpetit Hall in the Nations Capital.

Much like their first game against the Carleton Ravens the Tigers found themselves starring at the barrel of yet another three-point barrage as the Ottawa Gee-Gees nailed 7-of-8 triples in the first quarter and jumped out to an early 31-25 lead over the Tigers who shot 10-16 (62.5%) in the quarter but found themselves trailing by six points after the first ten minutes. Gee-Gees back-court duo of Mike L’African and Johnny Berhanemeskel knocked in nine points each for Ottawa. Memphis got a strong start from Shaq Goodwin and Chris Hawkins with six early points.

The three-pointers kept on coming in the second quarter as Ottawa cashed in on four straight triples and extended their lead to a game-high 50-37 (13-points) with 3:53 remaining in the second-quarter forcing a Memphis timeout. The Tigers returned from the huddle and outscored the Gee-Gees 10-3 to closeout the half trailing 53-47. The Gee-Gees knocked in an additional five triples in the quarter and shot a torrid 12-of-19 (63.2%) from the outside in the first-half. Johnny Berhanemeskel finished the half with 19 points on 7-of-9 shots, a perfect 4/4 three-pointers and Mike L’African added 15 on 5-of-9 triples. The Tigers got 8 points in the quarter from sophomore Nik King and shot 21-35 (65.6%) in the opening 20 minutes.

Memphis came out of the locker-room focused and continued where they left off in the first-half by completely dominated the Gee-Gees in a decisive third-quarter in which the Tigers ripped off 21-5 run grabbing a double-digit lead at 68-56 with 3:38 remaining in the quarter. The Tigers limited the Gee-Gees to just 1-of-6 shooting from outside in the quarter and pounded the ball inside, outscoring Ottawa 34-13 for 81-66 lead after three-quarters. Determined to keep their perfect start to the season the Gee-Gees got off to a quick start in the fourth and despite Berhanemeskel’s 12-point quarter which helped cut the lead to single digits, Ottawa had no answer for Memphis when they pounded the ball inside and on the glass.

“We attacked the paint, made free-throws and hurt them on the glass, but the first-half they were shooting and I was like does anybody miss in Canada?” mentioned Memphis head coach Joshua Pastner during post game.

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Johnny Berhanemeskel Memphis Tigers Roar Back 104 89 Win Ottawa Gees Gees
Ottawa Gees Gees Johnny Berhanemeskel goes off a screen against Memphis Tigers -Photo: Edilson J. silva

One area where the Tigers have not struggled with his three-point shooting after going 2-of-9 in the loss to Carleton Memphis connected on only 5-of-15 from outside the arc. “We are going to have to spend more time in the fall, this is an area that we really have been exposed and we gonna have to spend time making shots” added Pastor

Nick King (Memphis, Tenn./East) led five Memphis players in double-figures with a team-high 25 points and seven rebounds. 6’9 sophomore Kuran Iverson added 18 points, 6 rebounds and five assists and Shaq Goodwin finished with 16 points, 5 blocks and 2 blocked shots. “We are progressing as a team, we are young team, we are playing hard and crashing the glass. Coming to Canada we knew these teams could shoot, but we didn’t know they could shoot this well. The coaches said we weren’t rebounding at half-time and had to lock-down on their best player.”

“Coming into the third-quarter again we came together as team in the locker-room and established what were going to on defense and the game-plan and just went out there and executed.” discussed Shaq Goodwin after the game.

“Ahh man great country, great country we love it, beautiful city, beautiful food can’t wait to see more of it. Everybody in Canada has great hospitality, you walk down the street people speak to you, [Hey, how are you doing?] have a casual conversation , it’s great coming from the US where it’s very rare to find that.” add Goodwin when asked to describe is time in Canada.

Ottawa was paced by fifth-year senior guard Johnny Berhanemeskel’s 33-points on 12-of-15 shooting including a perfect 5-5 from downtown. Mike L’African was held in check in second-half and finished with 20 points, six assists and a team-high four rebounds in 35 minutes and Caleb Agada chipped in with 10 points, two rebounds and two assists.

“Today we got exposed on the post, on the o-glass also turnovers and bad shots, give all the credit to Memphis their defense was extremely active to start the third-quarter and it gave us fits and we crumbled under the pressure.” Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin commented in our post game interview.

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“I’m disappointed that, I’m disappointed because I thought we lost our composure, we lost our poise and for a fourth and fifth-year veteran team, obvious some of that was due to the opponent but I though to come out in the third-quarter we really just laid an egg out there, came out selfish we didn’t take care of the little details like finding a body and boxing out. End of the second-quarter and start of the third-quarter was the game right there.” Derouin continued.

Memphis finished the game shooting 64.1% on 41-64 shots and was better from the foul-line at 17-22 (77.3%). The Gee-Gees ended-up going 30-67 (43.3%) for the game and 17-35 from threes including a poor 14-of-23 from the charity stripe. Rebounding edge went to the Tigers with 39-23 (+16) advantage of the glass.

The win gives Memphis (1-1) their first win off the season and a taste of victory over a Canadian opponent. The Tigers will continue their Canadian tour with a game against the McGill Redmen (0-1) in Montreal.  The Gee-Gees wrap-up their NCAA schedule with an impressive 3-1 record which included wins over Indiana Hoosiers (109-104), Vermont Catamounts 73-66 and the University of Illinois-Chicago 79-76.

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