Ottawa, ON – The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees made a loud statement in front of their loyal fans and supporters by treating the loud raucous sold-out crowd to a thrilling 68-66 win over arch-nemesis and cross-town rivals Carleton Ravens.
With the joint packed and the music bumping, Montpetit Hall in downtown Ottawa was certainly the place to be as the four-time defending CIS Men’s Basketball National champions and No. 1-ranked Carleton Ravens took on the No. 2-ranked Gees-Gees in the battle of the undefeated and a rematch of last years (2013) CIS title game.
Canada’s most coveted collegiate basketball sports rivalry lived-up to exceptions as local Ottawa product and senior All-Canadian guard Johnny Berhanemeskel delivered a memorable and clutch crafty leaner with 4.2 seconds left to lift the Gee-Gees to their first regular season win over the Ravens since February 17 2007 and also handing Dave Smart his first-ever loss at Montpetit Hall during the James Derouin era (6 years).
“It’s a big win for our team, specially to do it at home in front of our fans, it was especial but we still have a lot of season left but it feels good to finally get one because when you lose these games, you say it doesn’t matter. It’s the last one that matters.” discussed a happy Gee-Gees Head Coach James Derouin.
“When you win these games, I guess you’re supposed to say the same thing. These guys understand there’s still a lot of season to go.” added Derouin who earned his first-ever win over Dave Smart at Montpetit Hall since taking over the program five years ago in 2010.
The Gee-Gees eager to get their first crack at Carleton since their close loss opened-up by playing solid defense and held the Ravens scoreless for over 3:00 plus minutes and grabbed 4-0 lead which could have been bigger if it weren’t for sloppy play and early turnovers that allowed Carleton to settle down and go on a 12-4 run to regain control at 12-8, from there it was all Gee-Gees as Berhanemeskel closed out the quarter by scoring seven straight-points including a slick crossover that sent the gym into a frenzy for a buzzer beating triple to put Ottawa ahead 15-14 after the first-quarter. Ottawa stayed focused and opened up the second-quarter on a 7-0 to push the lead to 22-14 and a took a slim 34-30 lead to the locker-room at half-time.
Ottawa came out of the locker room and showed the entire country just how potent their juggernaut offense is by canning five straight three-pointers (15-2 run) off sweet ball rotations and unselfish play to grab control of the highly anticipated contest. The Gee-Gees lead ballooned to a game-high 18 points with 3:01 left in the quarter as the hosts outscored the Ravens 27-16 in the and took what looked like comfortable 15-point lead into the final quarter.
Despite being outplayed for most the game the Ravens rallied behind their All-Canadian duo as Philip Scrubb and brother Thomas Scrubb took over scoring 18 of Carleton’s 20 fourth-quarter points to rally the defending champions when they needed most. Philip Scrubb scored 10 of his 14 fourth quarter points on three-straight triples including a four-point play to quickly cut the double-digit deficit to 65-59 with under 4:49 remaining.
Carleton’s defense limited the Gee-Gees offense to just five quarter points when Philip Scrubb stepped to the line and calmly stroked in two pressured free-throws to tie the game at 66-66 with 17 seconds remaining setting-up the stage for Berhanemeskel’s late game heroics.
Berhanemeskel led the Gee-Gees with 21 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Caleb Agada continue to make his case for All-Canadian honors with an impressive 17 point, 10-rebound double-double.
“I was just trying to make the best play for our team, and in that moment I was able to get a shot off and it worked out,” Berhanemeskel discussed with reporters during post game. “It means that much more playing them at home this year, and being able to squeeze out a win is good, and it just shows how hard guys have been working.”
Philip Scrubb poured-in a game-high 26 points and six rebounds on 7-of-16 shooting and 5-of-11 from deep. Thomas Scrubb added 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in losing effort.
“We just didn’t want to give up, we knew there was always a chance to come back and we just wanted to stay aggressive and make some shots. We played primarily through Tommy and made some big shots down the stretch.” opened up Philip Scrubb during post game.
“We realize we got a lot of things to work on. Obviously, we got to take practice more seriously and preparation for games more seriously. We kind of got exposed. They just outworked us in the first three quarters and that’s what why we lost.” add the three-time MVP.
Ottawa edged Carleton on the glass with a slight 35-34 advantage, both teams connect on nine three-pointers, Carleton going 9-for-29 (31%) while the Gee-Gees went 9-for-25 (36%).
With the victory Gee-Gees (9-0) stay unbeaten and will move to the No. 1 team in the country while the Ravens (8-1) will drop to second.
The overall record now stands at 22-1 with their lone loss coming at the hands of the Memphis Tigers back in August 17, 2014.
The two teams will face-off again on Friday February 6th at the 2015 Capital Hoops Classic at the Canadian Tire Place, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
Both teams could potentially meet two more times if everything goes according to plan, at the Wilson Cup (OUA Championships) and at the National championships at Ryerson University.