Courtesy of host organizing committee (Gianluca Nesci)
March 9, 2013, Ottawa (CIS) – With the CIS men’s basketball Final Eight tournament taking place in the nation’s capital, it was inevitable that the Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees would dominate in terms of fan support.
But if you didn’t know any better, you may have thought the fifth-seeded Acadia Axemen were the ones playing a home game when they took the court for the third quarter-final on Friday evening.
With the presence of local boys Anthony Ashe, Sean Stoqua and Lauchlan Gale on the roster, the Axemen were well represented in the crowd.
“It’s almost in my backyard, so it was a lot of fun,” said Ashe, who hails from nearby Stittsville and had both his parents and two sisters in the crowd.
The Axemen gave those fans in attendance at Scotiabank Place plenty to cheer about in their matchup with the fourth-ranked University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, as they emerged with an 89-80 victory.
Acadia, whose participation in the tournament came via a wildcard berth, were led by an incredible shooting performance from Tyler Scott.
The second-year guard from Halifax was on fire all night long, and finished with a game-high 29 points on 10-12 shooting (including seven of eight from three-point range), the best performance of the young tournament.
Scott said he began to really feel confident after his third shot of the game, which was a three from well beyond the arc.
“He’s been a great player for us all year but for him to come out on fire like that and maintain it all game was great,” Acadia head coach Stephen Baur said.
The Axemen fans, decked out in red and scattered throughout the building, were on their feet for much of the game. Never was this more evident than when guards Bradley States and Scott put an exclamation point on a solid opening quarter with back-to-back dunks following UBC turnovers.
On the back of 16 first-half points from Scott – who was a perfect 6-6 from the field in the half – the Axemen took a 39-31 lead into the break.
But the Thunderbirds were not going to let their shot at a national title disappear without a fight.
The Canada West champions came roaring out of the locker room, and battled back to take the lead midway through the third quarter. Veteran guard O’Brian Wallace did his best to pull his team ahead, ultimately finishing with a team-high 26 points and seven rebounds.
But Acadia has dealt with its fair share of adversity this season, having to endure injuries to multiple players including Klassen, an all-Canadian forward and AUS all-star Anthony Spears.
They were ready to respond.
A 9-2 run allowed the Axemen to regain the lead, and they never looked back. Fittingly, Ashe hit the dagger with just under 30 seconds remaining.
“I thought it was one of our worst defensive games,” Thunderbirds head coach Kevin Hanson said. “Our goal was to keep them under 70 points. In 11 of the last 12 games we’ve kept opponents under 70, but give them full credit, they have a lot of guys who can score outside and Owen Klassen is just a load inside.”
The game was overshadowed by a scary moment late in the fourth quarter as Thunderbirds star Doug Plumb needed to be stretchered off the floor after hitting the ground hard while trying to get back on defence.
Plumb was knocked out cold according to Hanson after tripping and hitting his head against the floor. He was brought to hospital, where Hanson said he was “coherent” and answering questions despite suffering a “huge gash on his head” and suspected concussion.
As such, he will not be in the lineup when the Thunderbirds compete tomorrow in the second consolation game at 2:15 p.m.
Meanwhile, by virtue of their win the Axemen will hit the court in the second semifinal of the night, which tips off at 8:15 p.m. and will be broadcasted live on The Score Television Network and www.CIS-SIC.tv.
They will take on the winner of the quarter-final between Carleton and the Victoria Vikes.
Baur said a meeting with the defending champion Ravens would be a “special” affair.
“We have a little bit of experience playing them last year so we’re looking forward to a good matchup if that is who we end up against”.
Championship website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mbkb/index
Carleton (OUA) hopes to be the only conference champion to advance to the Final Four, after Cape Breton (AUS), McGill (RSEQ) and UBC (Canada West) all fell in the first three matches of the championship.
Points: Tyler Scott (29), Owen Klassen (15), Anthony Ashe (14)
Rebounds: Tyler Scott (6), Anthony Ashe (6)
Assists: Sean Stoqua (4)
Player of the game: Tyler Scott
Points: O’Brian Wallace (26), Brylle Kamen (16)
Rebounds: O’Brian Wallace (7), Doug Plumb (7)
Assists: Tommy Nixon (4)
Player of the game: O’Brian Wallace
SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times EASTERN TIME)
Friday, March 8
12:00 Quarter-final #1: Lakehead 74, Cape Breton 61
14:15 Quarter-final #2: Ottawa 82, McGill 70
18:00 Quarter-final #3: Acadia 89, UBC 80
20:00 Quarter-final #4: No. 8 Victoria vs. No. 1 Carleton (ROGERS TV local / www.CIS-SIC.tv)
Saturday, March 9
12:00 Consolation #1: Cape Breton vs. Loser QF #2 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
14:15 Consolation #2: UBC vs. Loser QF #4 (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
17:30 Semifinal #1: Lakehead vs. Winner QF #2 (THE SCORE / www.CIS-SIC.tv)
20:15 Semifinal #2: Acadia vs. Winner QF #4 (THE SCORE / www.CIS-SIC.tv)
Sunday, March 10
11:00 5th place (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
13:15 Bronze medal game (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
15:30 Championship final (THE SCORE / www.CIS-SIC.tv)