Ottawa to meet Carleton for third time this season in OUA semifinals
The University of Ottawa men’s basketball team was at home for their OUA quarterfinal matchup on Saturday night. The Gee-Gees welcomed the Ryerson Rams, a team that handed Ottawa a crushing 91-67 defeat only a few weeks ago.
The Rams have cut the Gee-Gees season short the last three years, eliminating them all three times in the quarterfinals. This time, the Gees were able to turn things around and get themselves one step closer to the Wilson Cup.
Ottawa was first to get on the scoreboard. Marlon Kodrostami picked up an offensive rebound and sent it back up for two points. Ryerson’s Tanor Ngom answered with a dunk, but it wouldn’t be long before the Gee-Gees went on a run.
Only two minutes into the game, the 6-5 advantage marked the last time Ryerson was in the lead. From there on out, two pairs of free-throw shots by Kordrostami and Guillaume Pepin began a run that put the Gee-Gees in a double-digit lead.
Throughout the first quarter, the Rams struggled to break through the Gee-Gees defence. Solid work all over the court by Ottawa forced Ryerson to make errors, the ball somehow ending up in the hands of the Gees before the Rams could attempt a shot.
At the end of the opening 10 minutes, the Gee-Gees lead 23-8.
In the second, the Rams were able to find the basket far more often. While the Gee-Gees didn’t slow down on offence, they weren’t able to extend their lead any further. At the end of the second quarter, the score was 42-27.
While Ryerson was able to hang in the game, it was clear that the Gee-Gees were the dominant team in the opening half.
“Good teams make runs, so even when you’re up you have to know that something is going to happen, whether it’s the refs or the team coming back stronger,” said Borys Minger, a key player for the Gee-Gees defence. “You have to play as if you’re not running from the front.”
Calvin Epistola picked up two points to start the third, followed by a successful three-point play by Jaydon Frederick for the Rams. Only a minute later, Frederick sunk a three-pointer, slowly chipping away at the Ryerson deficit.
Three-point shots by Minger and Epistola prevented Ryerson from even nearing their score.
With one quarter left to play, the Gee-Gees were ahead 63-42.
In the final 10 minutes of play, the game had slowed down. Each team scored 12, making the final score 75-54.
Both Epistola and Pepin lead the game with 18 points each for the Gees. In addition, Epistola had five steals and seven rebounds on his stat line.
“The kids defended tonight, they fought. It’s a huge win,” said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin after the game. “We have the ace up our sleeve with the automatic bid, I think it gives the guys a bit of freedom and a bit of looseness.”
The victory means the Gee-Gees will advance to the OUA semifinals, where they will take on the Carleton Ravens at the Ravens Nest for their third meeting of the season.
In December, the top-ranked Carleton team defeated the Gee-Gees 69-65. At Capital Hoops Classic in early February, Ottawa handed Carleton their only loss of the season, winning 68-67.
“At the end of the day, Carleton, Ryerson, anyone, it’s still a game and you just have to figure out a way to be consistent and execute the game plan that the coaches have put together,” said Minger.
The Gees and Ravens will meet at Carleton’s Ravens Nest at 8 p.m. on Wednesday night.