Ottawa, Ont – For the second straight game it was lights out for the Ottawa Gee-Gees who once again torched a NCAA division opponent with their three-point shooting earning them a well deserved 73-66 win over the visiting Vermont Catamounts of the American East Conference.
A day after shocking the Indiana Hoosiers by knocking down 18-0f-30 three-pointers for a 109-101 victory to kick off the 2014-15 schedule, the Gee-Gees were back it again, this time on their home floor of Montepetit Hall. Ottawa continued their three-point barrage making 12-out-37 shots from downtown (32.4%) to improve to 2-0 in the young season. The victory marks the first time University of Ottawa has beaten NCAA division teams on back-to-back occasions.
Fifth-year senior guard and 2013-14 CIS second-team All-Canadian Johnny Berhanemeskel continue his big game tradition against and NCAA teams with 26 points and four rebounds including 5-for-9 from deep. The sharpshooting guard scored 10 first-quarter points on 4-of-4 shooting to give the Gee-Gees a 23-18 lead after the first-quarter. Vermont used their superior height advantage and pulled down 10 first-half offensive rebounds to stay in the game, despite the Gee-Gees six first-half long range bombs, giving Ottawa a seven-point lead (40-33) at half-time.
The Catamounts continued to chip at the Gee-Gees lead in the third-quarter as Canadian freshman point guard Trae Bell-Haynes (Unionville, Ontario), (7 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds) and Drew Urquhart (Vancouver, BC) ) (4 points, 2 rebounds) made their presence felt in a physical quarter that end of the Gee-Gees holding a slim 54-50. The fourth and final quarter belong to Berhanemeskel who poured in 14-points in the fourth quarter to give the Ottawa their second-straight victory. Mike L’African struggled with his outside shot (1-6) and finished with 11 points, five assists and four rebounds and was the only other Gee-Gee in double figures.
“We were able to make three’s tonight, we didn’t shot it well, but they shot poorly, 2-for-18, the three-point shot was definitely the difference in the game, rebounds are even, free-throws were pretty close. Johnny hit some big ones for us in the fourth quarter tonight to help us out but it wasn’t pretty tonight” lamented Ottawa Gee-Gees fourth-year head coach James Derouin.
“We are fourth and fifth year guys we’ve had back-to-back medals at nationals, played big games in the final four in back-to-back years, this is the third year for these guys, they are veterans, they don’t get phased” added Derouin when asked to describe the maturity of composure of his team early on in the preseason.
Ottawa’s record versus NCAA division teams improves to 5-25 with the back-to-back victories over Indiana and Vermont. Their five wins ranks third amongst Canadian universities with Carleton Ravens with 16 wins and the UBC Thunderbirds at seven wins. Despite the historic lopsided results Derouin sees the positives in these games and hopes that more media attention is given to Canadian university basketball.
“To tell you the truth, when I first started I didn’t like these games I felt like they were early, I felt like we didn’t have anything to gain, we were so young and inexperienced we just come in take a beating and leave, and what was the point. But as we started to improve every year I started to get more and more excited about the games and started to understand how valuable th
ey are to exposing your weaknesses and that’s why I look forward to these games now.
“It sort of a family thing when it comes to CIS we are all pulling for each other, there is not a guy on my roster that was offered a scholarship by anybody so for us and these kids to pull back-to-back wins against teams that didn’t offer any of these guys I mean it’s great for them. You get a change to show these guys, Vermont didn’t offer a single one of these guys, We know Indiana didn’t which is fine that is a big program.
“To get a win over Indiana is something that these guys will tell their grand-kids about and that is really special, I hope that it continues to draw attention to just how good the basketball is up here and we should get not only media coverage, but television coverage this a really good product. We show NCAA games ahead before we show CIS games on TV. TSN has got five channels, Sportsnet has six channels and here we are beating NCAA teams. I like to see that being recognized. The win yesterday got North American attention, you Americans tweeting about it, got Canadians talking about it and even Americans that didn’t know we had a league up here, all of a sudden then know.”
“Hopefully people appreciate the product and how hard these kids work. Talk about kids that are full rides in the States, these kids pay tuition, these kids are training all summer long, these guys aren’t on full rides, that should be appreciated a little more” and win does that”
The Gee-Gees (2-0) will look to keep things rolling when it tries for three-straight victories over a NCAA opponent. Up next Ottawa will take on Illinois-Chigaco Flames on Wednesday August 13 at Monpetit Hall.
The Gee-Gees played without starting forward Gabe Gonthier-Dube and transfer Alex Ratte (Laurentian).
Kadre Gray wins second consecutive U Sports MVP
Laurentian guard Kadre Gray took his game to another level this season.
That’s saying something.
A year ago, Gray was the top Canadian university male athlete in any sport, the first Laurentian student to win the honour.
He led the country in assists, narrowly missed a scoring title, and — perhaps by default — also won the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy as men’s basketball player of the year.
“Kadre’s work ethic continues to shine bright,” said Laurentian head coach Shawn Swords in a statement.
“He is always looking for ways to improve and refine all aspects of the game.”
If there was any doubt, Gray stifled it in his junior season.
He averaged 31 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game en route to his second consecutive Moser trophy.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment to do it once,” said Swords.
“And now, to be named MVP twice, is truly a testament to his willingness to learn and improve.
“The Kadre effect has spread throughout our community as well. It is great to see him support our local youth and realize the positive impact he has on everyone.”
Gray received the 2019 Moser trophy Thursday at a gala in Halifax, N.S., ahead of the U Sports Men’s Final 8 tournament.
University of Calgary guard Mambi Diawara, Concordia guard Ricardo Monge and St. Mary’s University guard Kemar Alleyne were also finalists for the award.
Gray was simply a cut above. He posted gaudy stats with notable efficiency, shooting 48.8 per cent from the floor.
He was also a First Team All-Canadian and played with Canada’s national team in FIBA World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers against Venezuela and Brazil.
Gray was the only U Sports player to participate in the qualifiers.
Other award winners:
Rookie of the Year (Dr. Peter Mullins Trophy): Alix Lochard, UQAM.
Ken Shields Award for Student-Athlete Community Service: Tanner Graham, Queen’s.
Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Anderson, Carleton.
Stuart W. Aberdeen Memorial Trophy (Coach of the Year): Dan Vanhooren, Calgary.
Carleton Ravens reclaim OUA Basketball Supremacy
The road to Ontario University Basketball supremacy has been firmly cemented through the Carleton University Ravens.
The Canadian basketball powerhouse has continuously dominated the toughest conference in the country year-in, year out, earning eleven (11) conference titles in Dave Smart’s 19 seasons as head coach.
Recently, the Ryerson Rams have threaten to end the Ravens dominance, earning the first non Carleton Ravens’ back-to-back (2016, 2017) conference titles since Joe Raso and the McMaster Marauders pulled it off in 1996 and 1997. Furthermore, despite the Ravens dominance of the Rams, they have managed to beat Carleton and win meaningfully games in March.
Ryerson, playing in their fourth straight Ontario University Association (OUA) conference championship game — a feat that not even the Ravens have accomplished, were looking for their third conference title in four years, having cut down the mesh at the Ravens’ Nest to win their second straight conference banner two years ago.
Add to the fact that Ryerson ended the Ravens hopes of a perfect season, pulling off a 78-74 road win less than five weeks ago and we once again had the ingredients for another great game.
“Coming into game we put a lot of focus in practice on limiting their key players and making it tough for them.” discussed Ravens’ point guard Yasiin Joseph after the Ravens executed their game-plan to perfection, beating the Ryerson Rams 81-61 to reclaiming Wilson Cup supremacy with their second straight conference title.
Carleton ripped off 12-0 run and held the Rams scoreless for over four minutes to grab 25-18 lead after one quarter. Ravens starting back-court of Yasiin Joseph (20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and Munis Tutu (16 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds) both played outstanding, controlling the offense and were great on the boards.
“Ryerson is a tough team and you have to be prepared. We made some adjustments from the previous game that helped us come on top.” Also commented Tutu, a Windsor, Ontario native who is looking for his first national title with the Ravens after falling short to the Rams in the national semi-final game.
Now three games away from potentially tasting national glory, Tutu understands the importance of staying focused and trusting the plan. “It’s going to be difficult, we are going to put in a tough week of practice, and prepare for our next opponent and try to bring the championship back to Ottawa.”
Eddie Ekiyor continued his All-Canadian campaign with 16 points and 6 rebounds in 22 minutes. TJ Lall returned from his one game suspension and almost had a perfect game with 10 points, 7 rebounds on 5-of-6 shooting.
Both teams shot poorly from the three-point line going a combined 8-of-49 (16%). Carleton limited the Rams offense to just seven assists and had fairly comfortable +17 (43-26) advantage on the glass.
6’11” Tanor Ngom continued to showcase his upside leading Ryerson in scoring with 15 points and four rebounds including a few exciting dunks for the standing room only, capacity crowd. JV Mukama was largely held in check and finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds including 0-7 from three-point shooting. Myles Charvis started off hot, but cooled down considerably, scoring 8 of his 10 points in the first quarter in 34 minutes.
Carleton won their first OUA conference basketball title of the Dave Smart era in his fourth year and they went on to three-peat on two occasions, from 2003-2005 and again from 2008-2010. They also took home top honors in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2018 and now once again 2019.
The only years the Ravens have failed to win the national title as conference champions were in 2008 when they lost to the Acadia Axemen, 2010 against Saskatchewan and recently against Ryerson in 2018.
The Ravens are now the odds on favorites to earn the top seed at next weeks Final 8 National Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia — a place where they have won 8 of their record 13 national titles.