Adel had the crowd on their feet with an outstanding 37 point performance
Ottawa basketball fans were served a treat at TD Place Arena as the Ottawa BlackJacks hosted the Fraser Valley Bandits in their 2022 season opener.
Since the BlackJacks joined the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) in 2019, the team has offered a home for many U Sports athletes to continue their craft, including big name Gee-Gees Guillaume Pepin and Maxime Boursiquot.
The University of Ottawa stars are joined by a handful of their former crosstown rivals, including the BlackJacks’ recent pickup, Aiden Warnholtz, who led the Carleton Ravens to a U Sports championship earlier this year.
The Wednesday tip off went in favour of the BlackJacks but they were unable to turn the opening possession into points.
Bandits center Chris McLaughlin put two on the scoreboard to get the game started.
Boursiquot took it upon himself to respond, flying through the opposing team for a quick layup.
Ottawa took their first lead of the game thanks to a clean three-pointer by Deng Adel.
Adel didn’t stop there, continuously finding the ball in his hands and leading the BlackJacks on a nine point run.
At the end of the opening quarter, the BlackJacks were in control, up 27-21.
No surprise, the crowd was loud.
Ottawa maintained their pace heading into the second quarter, managing to extend their lead into double digits after a dunk by Chad Pothumus.
The Bandits definitely woke up midway through the quarter, capitalizing on some misplays by the home team.
By the end of the first twenty minutes of play, Ottawa led 46-41.
Having the lead since the first five minutes of the game, the pressure was on the BlackJacks to put away the Bandits in front of a fired-up home crowd.
Clearly, halftime did not cool Adel down. Left wide open on the three-point line, he easily made the shot to kick off the second half.
Boursiquot added his own three-pointer to the statline.
Even with Ottawa scoring from all over the court, the Bandits refused to let the game go out of reach. Free throw shots were huge for them, slowly chipping away at the score and bringing it back to a two basket game.
The biggest problem for the Bandits was Adel.
I am not exaggerating when I say that Adel simply dominated the game. By the end of the third, he had already contributed 28 points to the BlackJacks’ 68-64 lead.
“I kept my confidence high and took the shots they gave me,” Adel said when asked about his performance after the game.
The fourth started as a back and forth showdown between the teams, but with 6:10 left on clock, the Bandits locked in, and Alex Campbell dropped a three-pointer to tie things up at 75.
Finally, Fraser Valley flipped the lead.
Not for long though. Adel drove into the paint, drawing the foul and shooting the free-throw to complete the and-one play and get back ahead 78-77.
Again, things went back and forth. As per Elam ending rules, the target score of 89 was set.
The teams were tied up at 83-83 in the race to score 89. Cody John put the BlackJacks closer to the goal with a layup drive.
Soon after, he went flawless at the free-throw line. The BlackJacks led by three in search of one more basket.
Unfortunately for Ottawa, the Bandits tied things up again. Campbell put up a pair of free-throws and a layup to make it 87 a piece.
The Bandits came down with the rebound on an Ottawa shot.
Campbell lined up behind the three-point line and drained the three for an unbelievable comeback win.
Ottawa head coach Charles Dubé-Brais gave credit to the Fraser Valley defense, but acknowledged that their own errors led to the BlackJacks’ loss.
“We had some opportunities that we missed, and I think those added up,” Dubé-Brais said. “We left a lot of things on the table tonight.”