Lennoxville, Que. – The Ottawa Gees took the court for the first since coming up just shy of winning their first ever CIS Men’s National championship against city rivals Carleton Ravens 79-67 in the 2014 CIS Men’s title game and earned a historic 109-101 victory over NCAA division one powerhouse Indiana Hoosiers who are on their second-game of their 2014 Canadian tour.
The Gee-Gees who return four starters from their 2014 team that went 38-5 jumped out to an early 20-7 lead on Indiana thanks to their hot shooting and maintained a six-point cushion at 26-20 after the first quarter which saw Ottawa nail 6-of-8 three-pointers. Starting point guard Mike L’African torched the Hoosiers for 10 points in quarter.
Indiana quickly regrouped and ripped-off an explosive 22-4 run to take a 36-35 lead with 4:55 left in the first-half, but the Gee-Gees behind fourth year head coach maintained their cool and continued to move the ball around the horn and both teams headed to locked room tied at 52-52.
Tom Crean and the Hoosiers opened the third-quarter on a 7-2 run for a quick 59-54 lead but struggled to contain the penetration of L’African leading to wide open three-pointers shots for Johnny Berhnameskel and Vikas Gill. The two teams found little to no seperation and exchanged multiple leads in fast paced quarter which ended with the Hoosiers leading last years CIS Final 8 finalist 79 -78.
With the score tied at 88-88 with 4:55 minutes remaining and the Gee-Gees on the verge of pulling off their biggest win in program history third-year forward Vikas Gill caught fire by knocking three-straight three-pointers to spark a decisive a 14-5 run to put the Gee-Gees ahead for good at 102-93 with a 1:30 remaining.
The Gee-Gees offensive onslaught saw four players reach double-figures led by their starting back-court duo of Mike L’African and Johnny Berhanemeskel who combined for have half of the Ottawa points with 27 apiece. L’African connected on 6-of-8 shots from downtown and shot 9-of-15 from the floor while racking up six assists and only one turnover. Second-Team All-Canadian Johnny Berhanemeskel went 11-18 from the floor and buried 3-of-7 shots from deep. Vikas Gill finished with 21 points including a scorching 7-of-8 from 3-pointers, Caleb Agada added double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds. Fifth-year senior provided his usual toughness inside with 11 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.
The Gee-Gees shot an incredible 18-30 (60%) from 3-pointers and 41-78 (52%) from the game to pick-up their fourth victory over a NCAA team. Ottawa has now beaten the likes of TCU Horned Frogs (2013), La Salle Explorers (2006), and Eastern Kentucky (2005).
Indiana was paced by 6’7″ sophomore forward Troy Williams with 27 points on 12-of 16 from the field and highly touted freshman James Blackmon Jr. who continued to show his potential with 20 points on 8-14 shooting. The Hoosiers shot a healthy 41-of-73 (56%) for the game and connected on 7-of-17 from behind the arc and left points off the board by going 12-of-20 from the free-throw line.
Ottawa’s NCAA preseason schedule continues with a game at home against the Vermont Catamounts (America East) who also touring Canada and are currently 2-0 with convincing wins over Queens 95-53 and Laval Rouge et Or 85-67.
The Hoosiers 1-1 will now travel to the Nations Capital for another tough contest against the 10-time CIS champions Carleton Ravens will kick-off their 2014 campaign at the Ravens Nest in Ottawa.