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).