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Ottawa Gee-Gees claim #1 spot with clutch 75-73 win over Carleton

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The truth is, when it comes to University basketball in Canada the “613” has got it on lock!

Every year local Ottawa basketball fans circle their calendars, flood the Ravens Nest, Montpetit Hall or The Canadian Tire Centre (CTC) for what has arguably become the hottest ticket in a traditionally hockey dominated town. Ravens vs. Gee-Gees, Carleton versus Ottawa has become undoubtedly become synonymous with not only local fans, it has become one of North America’s most feared rivalries between the two CIS Basketball national powerhouses.

In the latest chapter of this storied by-town rivalry Ottawa Gee-Gees fifth year senior point guard Mike L’African (Oakville, ON) connected on two huge buckets down the stretch, including a patented fade-away shot with a stitched-up shooting hand to steal a well deserved 75-73 win over the 11-time CIS Men’s Basketball National Champs. With the win the Gee-Gees reclaim the number one spot on the weekly CIS National rankings after being dropped to third thanks to a unexpected loss to Laval Rouge et Or during the Christmas holiday break.

L’African who finished with 17 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists in 38 minutes including his late game heroics spoke with BasketballBuzz after the game, describing what it felt like earning his first ever win at the Ravens Nest and hitting the game-winner and playing with three stitches in his shooting hand.

“We have been there before, the first couple of times we were young kids, were like oh my god, oh my god, but now we kind of been there and done that, but I never done this one. Never got a win here before, so that’s a different one. I feel like we all kinda of kept our composure at the end of the game. I think that was the difference, were older, we have a lot of guys that have been there before.”

“It’s funny we work on their switch everyday and that’s my favorite shot, I like fading away to my right shoulder and getting away from the block shot. I’ve done that before but never with stitches in my hand, that was a good shot. I cut myself doing the dishes, I was in emergency for 12-hours a few days ago, no sleep, it was numb the whole game, it’s still shaking, but these are the games you can’t sit out.” An excited L’African elaborated further.

The victory ended Carleton’s 133-game OUA home winning streak dating back to 2007 while enacting some much needed revenge for the Gee-Gees who were humiliated 93-46 in the 2015 CIS National Championship game having just beat the Ravens less than two weeks prior.

Wins at the Ravens Nest don’t come easy for OUA, CIS and NCAA division one teams, one would have to dust off the record books and flip back to 2007 when Ottawa last knocked off their arch nemesis on their home floor.

With the taste of last year’s championship defeat still lingering in their minds the Gee-Gees and their coaching staff brought their A-game across the Rideau Canal. The confident and veteran laden Gee-Gees executed their game plan to perfection and stayed within striking distance of the Ravens as both teams exchanged blows and connected on timely three-point baskets to keep the sold-out, standing room only crowd on edge.

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Despite a well prepared game plan, which included the Gee-Gees out-rebounding Carleton for perhaps their first time in the James Derouin Era, Ottawa and their supportive fans found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard as the game approached crunch time.

With Carleton leading 69-61 with under seven minutes remaining Gee-Gees supporters were staring at a familiar outcome, yet another loss to Carleton. But unlike previous match-ups, the big game experience kicked in as Ottawa fought back behind the stellar play of All-Canadian and Player of the Year candidate Caleb Agada who finished with double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds. The fourth-year forward dominated, early and often and took over late, despite a painfully and visible sprained ankle that forced him to be carried off the court by teammates at the end of the game as the Gee-Gees rallied using a late 14-4 run to steal the game as Carleton’s last second attempt bounced out.

The Gee-Gees out-rebounded Carleton 43-32 including grabbing 18 offensive rebounds in the process thanks to a conscious effort on the boards largely due to the off-season addition of transfer Nathan Mc Head Coach Derouin discussed his teams effort on the glass and what it meant to pull out the win. “It’s been a while since Teddy (former player Teddy Kabutu) hit that corner three, I think I’m the only person that can remember the last time we won here, or the last time they lost a league (OUA) game here. There is a bucklist with these guys and winning in this gym is on that list, some things we wanted to check off and to be able to do it is great.”

“I don’t think we overly celebrated tonight’s win, this is the third in three years. I’m hoping that our veterans that have been there for all three wins understand that, good job, but the job is not done, but a mean great stepping stone, great stuff out there tonight.” Added Derouin whose team now sports a 3-3 record against the Ravens in the last six games.

Carleton’s NCAA division one transfer Kaza Keane (Ajax, ON via Cleveland St.) continued to impress, finishing with a game-high 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting, Guillaume Boucard (Montreal, QC) was next in line with a solid 20 points and five rebounds. Ryan Ejim (Toronto, ON) came off the bench and was instrumental, adding 14 points, most of them off pick and pop situations to round-out the Ravens double digit scoring.

Playing in his first bytown classic Kaza Keane described the game as a “really good atmosphere” and thanked for all the fans that came out and supported. “Canada basketball is on the rise and this is what I expected I when transferred here, that was a great game against a great team.” described the Ravens leading scorer. Keane also pointed out the inability to get stops and rebounds down the stretch “we didn’t get stops when we needed them, it’s a tough loss.”

Both teams will meet again on February 5th at the Annual Capital Hoops classic at the Canadian Tire Centre in what promises to be yet another high level match-up that could very well determine OUA playoff and CIS Final 8 seeding implications.

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Highly touted Alabama Crimson Tide Return To Canada

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Alabama Crimson Tide Avery Johnson Return To Canada

The Alabama Crimson Tide led by former NBA Head Coach Avery Johnson, a 16-year veteran and NBA champion point-guard during his playing days will bring his highly touted Alabama Crimson Tide to Canada for series of games against Canada’s top university basketball programs.

The Crimson Tide will visit both Montreal and Ottawa for a three-game exhibition schedule against McGill Redmen (Mon Aug 7), Carleton Ravens (Wed Aug 9) and the Ottawa Gee-Gees (Thu Aug 10).

The Tide competed hard last year and took a step in the right direction with a 19-15 record, 10-8 SEC record and have NCAA March Madness tournament aspirations thanks to solid recruiting class which ranks amongst the nations best.

Led by a talented crop of returning guards, Dazon Ingram (10.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG), Riley Norris (9 PPG, 3 RPG), the coaches son Avery Johnson Jr. and forwards Braxton Key the Tide will be a handful for the it’s Canadian opposition.

Key a 6’8″, 220 lbs flirted with the  2017 NBA draft after a stellar freshman season, the Charlotte, NC native led ‘Bama in scoring with 12 point per game and was second in rebounding at 5.7 per game. The Tide will also welcome incoming red-shirt sophomore 6’10”, 240lbs Daniel Giddens to a line-up that returns four starters.

Alabama anchored by current NBA player Alonzo Gee (Denver Nuggets) last visited Canada back in 2007 and finished with a record of 4-1 against the same exact teams, dropping a tight 83-72 decision against the Carleton Ravens who have won seven straight Canadian titles including 13-of the-last-15 championships.

Carleton’s signature win over Alabama was only their second ever against a NCAA division one team after 16-game losing streak from 1999 to 2006. The Ravens current record against NCAA teams in Canada stands at an impressive 26-23 (.531%) record.

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Calgary Dinos Thomas Cooper Senior Highlights

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Calgary Dinos Thomas Cooper Senior Highlights

Calgary Dinos senior guard Thomas Cooper had himself and impressive CIS/Usports career to say the least. The Chattanooga, Tenn. native, a 6-5, 200 lbs guard earned himself two first team All-Canadian awards while leading Dinos back to the championship game for the first time since 1966.

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No. 1 Carleton Ravens 81-40 lock-up rivals No. 2 Ottawa Gee-Gees

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Eddie Ekiyor Carleton Ravens Vs.Ottawa Gee Gees USports Basketball
Photo - Valerie Wutti

Ottawa, ON – The twelve-time defending CIS/USports National Basketball Champions and No.1 Carleton Ravens went into Monpetit Hall and completely dominated the No. 2 ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees, locking up their Bytown rivals with a blistering 81-40 win.

The Ravens, the top defensive unit in the country, allowing an incredible low of only 60 points to opponents, dominated every aspect of the much anticipated game holding Ottawa to four points in the first-quarter and thirteen in the second for a grand total of seventeen first-half points and 35-17 half-time lead.

The first-quarter ended with Ravens leading 11-4 as both teams slugged it out in front of a jam packed standing room only Monpetit Hall which hasn’t seen the Gee-Gees get dismantled like this on their home floor in 32-game OUA conference games – snapping home winning streak which dated back to 2012.

Fifth-year senior Guard Connor Wood caught fire in the second-quarter after a cold start scoring all but 14 of the teams 24 points in the quarter and finished with 16 in the half and game-high 19 points. Starting point guard Kaza Kajami-Keane added 10 points, six rebounds in just 19 minutes.

The Gee-Gees were limited to 6-of-32 (18.8%) shooting, 3-of-17 from the outside in the opening 20 minutes and managed to only connect on 12-56 (21.4%) of their field goal attempts for the entire game and only 6-of-26 from the outside.

Carleton shot 50% in the second-half and finished 31-68 from the floor and 13-of-28 from downtown while turning the ball over 9 times compared to the Gee-Gees 18.

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The 40 points allowed by the Ravens is their lowest against the Gee-Gees since a 74-34 smack-down in January 18th, 2012 at the Sixth Annual Capital Hoops Classic.

Carleton Ravens 6’10” freshman Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, ON) and senior forward Ryan Ejim (Toronto, ON) finished one point shy of double-doubles with 9 points and 8 rebounds respectively, and shutdown the Gee-Gees dynamic duo of Caleb Agada (12 points, 4 rebounds) and former Ravens Jean Emmanuel Pierre (7 points, 6 rebounds). Gee-Gees Guard Brandon Robinson had a team-high 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting, 3-of-4 triples.

Carleton’s record  stays unblemished at a perfect 10-0, 16-0 against Canadian competition and 22-2 overall with the only losses coming from two NCAA opponents on the road in Rhode Island – Providence Friars 87-69 and in Philadelphia against LaSalle Explorers 79-73.

Both teams will meet again in just over two weeks (Feb 3rd) at the 2017 Capital Hoops Classic at the ScotiaBank Centre.

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