Men’s and women’s teams take home two victories apiece
MONTPETIT HALL WAS packed to the last seat during the basketball home opener Nov. 18. Twice Gee-Gees fans jumped up in anticipation as the clock struck zero and the men’s and women’s basketball teams came out victorious for the first time this season.
The women’s team easily beat out last year’s Canadian Interuniversity (CIS) champions, the University of Windsor Lancers, 74-58, while the men’s team played a close game, winning 69-65. Between the screaming students, the dance team’s halftime show, and the performance by the athletes, the home-opening weekend lived up to its expectations.
Women’s team beats CIS champions
The Garnet and Grey snagged their first win of the season Friday night after four periods of constant play. Following losses to Brock University and McMaster University a week earlier, the University of Ottawa women’s basketball team achieved a 16-point win against the defending CIS champions, the Windsor Lancers.
“The fans were fantastic and I think we gave them a great game,” said head coach Andy Sparks of the energy on the court. “That’s what we hoped we would be able to do.”
The first quarter saw the Gees take control of the court, setting up plays that would leave them with an advantage come halftime. Fifth-year centre Hannah Sunley-Paisley took the first shot for the Gees, scoring a two-pointer.
The Lancers didn’t make it easy for the home team, scoring a total of 19 points by the end of the 20th minute of play. Ottawa rebounded with the help of fourth-year centre Jenna Gilbert, who scored 20 points within the first half.
“We watched a lot of film so we knew what we were up against,” Gilbert said after the game. “They are obviously a very good team, so we had to fix a few things that we didn’t do well last weekend.”
First-year point guard Kellie Ring and second-year guard Tatiana Hanlan jump-started the Gees offensive attack with a three-point shot each at the end of the third.
The Lancers picked up speed in the second half with the Gees resting in a standstill against a full-court pressure defence, making it difficult for the Gees to control the ball. Sparks commented on the Gees reaction to Windsor’s tight defensive strategy, explaining they did a good job on the offensive, but they have to work on playing under that stress.
“[The Lancers are] very athletic, their guards were quick, and they put a lot of pressure on,” he said. “You can see that we really struggled with the pressure … That’s something we know we have to work on.”
The U of O squad adjusted to the Lancers’ defence in the final quarter. Gilbert took three successful shots to open the frame. The Gees continued to score, resulting in a 58-74 win against the reigning champs.
“I think today was the turnaround game because last weekend no one really played well,” said Gilbert. “Hopefully we can keep this up and keep working.”
Men win from half court
The Gee-Gees decided early on they weren’t going to lose their home opener. After two close losses the previous weekend, the University of Ottawa men’s basketball team knew they needed a win—and that’s just what they gave the home crowd.
“If you’d asked me after the first quarter, I would have said [that] nothing [had changed]. It was a lot like last weekend,” said head coach James Derouin of the game. “For me, importantly, I thought that we stayed composed even though we had a really rough start.”
Ottawa had a slow start to the game, giving Windsor the first eight points. The Gee-Gees rebounded quickly with second-year guard Johnny Berhanemeskel and first-year guard Michael L’Africain each scoring two points in the first frame.
The Garnet and Grey finally found their groove in the second quarter with L’Africain performing a nice layup after a pass by fourth-year guard Warren Ward.
“[L’Africain] was aggressive,” said Derouin. “I try to tell him that if he takes more than 10 shots in a game we are undefeated, and today he took 12 … I don’t know, he’s just good.”
The second half saw Ward and Berhanemeskel tag team to score a series of drives that brought the Gees to the lead. The Gees moved quickly in the final 10-minute quarter, making many scoring attempts. Their defensive lines remained strong and, with the support of the cheering fans, the Garnet and Grey soared to a 69-65 win, their first of the season.
Derouin commented on the Gees changeup in defensive schemes throughout the game, saying they moved swiftly from a two-three zone defence to a three-quarter court trap—an alteration that got them the win.
“I thought our three-quarter court trap that we’ve been working on all year was [the] difference tonight,” he said. “They struggled with it a bit so we changed it up, but soon we felt it was working and we went back to it. I thought it was a big turnaround for the game.”
Men’s basketball improves to 2-2 after stomping Western
IT WASN’T THE start the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team wanted. One night after earning a momentous win against the nationally sixth-ranked Windsor Lancers, Ottawa struggled early Nov. 19 at Montpetit Hall against the University of Western Ontario Mustangs (1-3).
The Gee-Gees dug themselves into a hole in the second quarter and needed a late run just to secure a five-point lead by halftime. Ottawa refocused in the second half, dominating the final two quarters en route to a convincing 84-57 win.
“I think we came in here a little flat tonight, which is common after a big win with a young team,” said head coach James Derouin. “You get a big win and feel good about yourself, [but] come out thinking about scoring and not about boxing out and getting rebounds.”
Ottawa improved their record to 2-2 with the win. The Gees will hit the road to play the Lakehead Thunderwolves (4-0) on Nov. 25 and the Guelph Gryphons (3-1) the following day.
Gees exhaust their horsepower in victory over Mustangs
THE FIRST PERIOD saw the women’s basketball team battle it out on the court against the University of Western Ontario Mustangs in Montpetit Hall Nov. 19. Although the Mustangs led 31-16 and shot 83.3 per cent from beyond the arc during the first period, the Gees continued to fight, taking control of the second quarter to make some shots of their own. Fifth-year centre Hannah Sunley-Paisley and fourth-year centre Jenna Gilbert took 10 points to close the gap.
Fans witnessed a complete turnaround in the second half as the Garnet and Grey took the court with a new energy, scoring 24 points in the final frame and ending the game with a 79-62 victory.
“It’s only the beginning of the year,” said head coach Andy Sparks. “Whether we had won or lost, we would have the same approach—we have to get better for tomorrow.”
The Gee-Gees will travel to Lakehead University (3-1) and Guelph University (2-2) on Nov. 25 and 26 in hopes of keeping their winning streak alive.