The University of Ottawa lived up to its billing as the number-one seed at the CIS Men’s Basketball Championship with an impressive 94-73 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies Friday night.
With the win the Gee-Gees will face the No. 4 Victoria Vikes in semi-final action Saturday night.
The Gee-Gees made things look easy as they ran away with the game with a solid fourth quarter where they took a 21-point lead, but they were forced to work for it.
The Gee-Gees took control early on as the Huskies struggled to find its range from the floor.
Trailing 5-0 the Huskies finally got on the board with back-to-back three pointers to take a 6-5 lead. It would be one of the few times the Huskies would own the lead.
The first quarter ended with Ottawa leading 26-22. Saskatchewan managed to tighten things up through the second quarter and trailed by just three at the half, 43-40.
“We would have liked to pull away early in the game, but I didn’t think we were particularly sharp early in this game,” said Ottawa head coach James Derouin. “I think the fatigue factor crept in a little bit. You could see it in their bodies and their faces so it’s more just a game I’m glad we got over with to be honest.”
There had been some concern as to how players would adapt to playing in the wide open confines of the Canadian Tire Centre, but the Gee-Gees seemed to adapt just fine as Ottawa was most impressive from the outside shooting 14 three-pointers.
“That’s how we play,” said Derouin. “We led the country in three’s made and taken and we need to take three’s for us to be successful. We shot the ball well.”
The Gee-Gees offense was led by fourth-year forward Terry Thomas with 37 points, while Mike L’Africain had 34. Johnny Berhanemeskel added 33.
While the trio was the backbone to the Gee-Gees offense they also received solid contributions from the bench.
“It’s those little contributions over the course of a tournament that are big,” said Derouin. “I was happy with the team contribution.”
While the Gee-Gees were pleased with the win they feel they will need to be even better against the Vikes Saturday night.
“We’re going to need to be staying together, execution and just outworking them,” said Thomas. “I feel like it’s going to be a grind. I feel like this whole tournament is going to be a grind for us.”
The Huskies will advance to consolation semifinal where they will face the McGill Redmen.
The Huskies were led by a 35-point performance from third-year forward Ben Baker.
The second-seeded Carleton Ravens have moved on to the semifinals of Canada’s men’s university basketball Final 8 as they dropped the No. 7 McMaster Marauders 82-64 in a quarter-final matinee on Friday.
Carleton, the reigning three-time champion, will now face the No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears in the early semi-final on Saturday.
The Ravens rode a combined 41-point performance by the brothers Philip and Tommy Scrubb along with 13 points from Kevin Churchill and 12 from Tyson Hinz.
Carleton took the lead from the opening tip-off against their OUA west counterparts and never looked back outscoring their opposition in all four quarters.
“We (Carleton) did some good things offensively against Mac but I feel that we got some breaks when they missed some looks and shots,” said Ravens head coach, Dave Smart. “Our defence did a little better job getting out of their comfort zone and not letting Mac get in the paint. But we still have guys that are taking short cuts and being taken advantage of.”
Earlier, Victoria’s Terrell Evans scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds to lift the Vikes over McGill 63-54.
Chris McLaughlin had 16 points for Victoria while Marcus Tibbs added 15. Francois Bourque led McGill with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Alberta defeated the Saint Mary’s Huskies 72-62 in the opening game of the CIS basketball championship.
The Canada West champions trailed by four points at the half Friday afternoon but pulled ahead with a strong effort in the third quarter.
Alberta forward Jordan Baker led all scorers with 17 points.
McMaster will play against the Saint Mary’s Huskies Saturday afternoon in a consolation match, while the McGill Redmen will face Saskatchewan in the other consolation game