Courtesy of host organizing committee (Gianluca Nesci)
March 9, 2013, Ottawa (CIS) – The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees booked their place in the CIS men’s basketball national semifinal Friday afternoon with an 82-70 victory over the McGill University Redmen in front of a raucous crowd at Scotiabank Place.
In the second quarter-final of the tournament, the third-ranked Gee-Gees relied heavily on second-team all-Canadian forward Warren Ward, who put up a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds – each game high totals.
While the final score eventually ballooned into a double-digit victory, the contest was a tight affair early on.
Making their first appearance at the CIS Final Eight since 1979 and playing in front of a hostile crowd, the Redmen would have been forgiven for being overwhelmed by their surroundings.
Instead, the RSEQ champions came out strong and kept the contest close throughout the opening half, heading into the locker room only trailing 28-27 against the heavily favoured Gee-Gees.
“They compete and they didn’t quit,” Ward said of his opponents after the game. “We have a lot of respect for them.”
The last time these two teams met – in non-conference action on October 21 in Montreal – the Redmen came away with a dominant 85-64 victory.
What changed this time around?
“I wasn’t playing,” Ward said before admitting that many of Ottawa’s other key players were absent as well.
Today, the Redmen could very well have taken a lead into the break had it not been for the unexpected impact of Gee-Gees’ rookie Caleb Agada. The six-foot-four guard came in off the bench and chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds in only 16 minutes of action.
His performance couldn’t have come at a better time for head coach James Derouin, who introduced the Burlington, Ont., native in the second quarter with his team struggling to score against the second-best defense in the country.
“We needed energy at that point,” Derouin said. “The kid hasn’t even turned 19 yet, he’s a pure freshman right out of high school and on the biggest stage he comes in and knocks down two threes, just an incredible performance and we don’t won this game today without him, that’s for sure.”
While Agada provided the spark to help get the hometown team into a rhythm, it was Ward who helped put the game out of reach. For his efforts, the veteran was named player of the game – something Ottawa fans have become used to during his five-year career with the program.
“He played exactly how we need him to play,” Derouin said. “I thought he did a great job, I thought he was aggressive and he hit the big shots, he hit a big three and really put them away in that fourth quarter. But that’s nothing out of the ordinary, that’s what Warren does.”
His performance didn’t come as a surprise to Redmen head coach Dave DeAveiro.
DeAveiro spent 19 years with the Gee-Gees’ program – nine of those as the bench boss – before leaving for Quebec to take the helm at McGill three years ago.
After the game, the veteran coach was complimentary of his former team, and offered a warning to the remaining squads at the tournament.
“They’re one of the best teams in the country,” DeAveiro said of Ottawa. “You don’t want to play that team, they’re very good right now and they have a great chance to win.”
If the Gee-Gees continue to get secondary scoring the way they did Friday afternoon, they very well could come away with the W.P. McGee Trophy. Aside from Ward, four other players hit double-figures in the game.
The third-ranked team now moves on to the national semi-final on Saturday where they will take on the Lakehead University Thunderwolves, who came away with an upset victory over the Cape Breton Capers in the opening game of the tournament.
That game is set to tip-off at 5:30 p.m. and will be live on The Score Television Network and www.CIS-SIC.tv.
Meanwhile, the Redmen – who were led by 18 points from Vincent Dufort – will battle the Capers in the first consolation game at noon.
Championship website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mbkb/index
For the Gee-Gees, Derouin said that playing against a team as physical and hard-working as the Redmen in the first round was the ideal way to prepare for the Thunderwolves, who are renowned for their aggressive defensive.
He also noted that he has no worries about his team growing complacent with today’s win.
“The celebration seemed pretty tame for a team that’s going to the national semi-final, so that tells me the guys know there’s more work to be done.”
OTT: 16-12-21-33: 82
McG: 13-14-18-25: 70
Boxscore: Stats OTT McG
Points: Warren Ward (23), Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue (15), Mike L’Africain (13)
Rebounds: Warren Ward (11), Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue (8)
Assists: Johnny Berhanemeskel (3)
Player of the game: Warren Ward
Points: Vincent Dufort (18), Te’Jour Riley (16), Winn Clark (13)
Rebounds: Vincent Dufort (9), Te’Jour Riley (6)
Assists: Simon Bibeau (4)
Player of the game: Vincent Dufort
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: No. 5 Acadia vs. No. 4 UBC (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
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: Loser QF #3 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: Winner QF #3 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)