Dalhousie takes silver, UBC bronze, while Gee-Gees finish sixth
The 2020 USports men’s basketball national championships wrapped up yesterday in Ottawa. Read our recaps of the consolation final, the bronze final, and the championship game below.
U of O Gee-Gees vs U of A Golden Bears in consolation final: Ottawa no match for Alberta in Epistola and Stoqua’s last game as Gee-Gees
The University of Alberta Golden Bears opened the day on the men’s side with a resounding victory over the Gee-Gees. As a result, Ottawa took sixth place while the U of A won fifth place, a disappointing result for an Ottawa team that seemed destined for gold coming out of the Capital Hoops Classic in early February.
The Gee-Gees and Golden Bears tied the first quarter 16-16. Borys Minger, Guillaume Pepin and Sean Stoqua all got in on the hoop action for Ottawa.
The second quarter was all Alberta’s, and after a couple of early baskets by Ottawa, the Golden Bears went on a 10-point run led by Ivan Ikomey, who had 12-points in the first half to take a 36-29 lead. Both teams then traded baskets but the U of A was able to prevent any type of lopsided run by the Gee-Gees. At the half, the Golden Bears led 42-32.
The Golden Bears came back buzzing after the break and kept pilling on baskets against a Gee-Gees team that seemed unable to answer. Midway through the quarter Alberta was up 62-46 and seemed to be running away with the game. At the end of the quarter, they led 69-51 as Ikomey kept piling on the points.
The Gee-Gees managed to cut into the deficit in the fourth quarter, in part due to the efforts of Epistola and Kevin Civil but were unable to mount any kind of a comeback against a U of A team that proved to be too strong for the Gees. The Golden Bears took the game 88-75.
Western Mustangs vs UBC Thunderbirds in bronze final: UBC edges out Western in high-scoring affair
The second matchup of the day on the men’s side featured the UBC Thunderbirds and the Western Mustangs. Western opened the tournament with a surprise upset win over the Golden Bears but was blown out 90-63 by Carleton in the semi-finals. UBC had an easy first matchup, dropping triple digits on the Bishop Gaiters, but then struggled against Dalhousie and lost by 29 points.
Playing in his last university basketball game, Manroop Clair seemed determined to make an impact and lead the Thunderbirds to a bronze medal. The Surrey, B.C. native put up a tournament-high 39 points for UBC and managed to also recover 10 rebounds.
Clair’s teammate Jadon Cohee opened the score early with a three-pointer all the way from Barrhaven. Western’s Nikola Farkic replied about a minute later with a three from Orleans to get Western within one of the Thunderbirds at 6-5.
The Mustangs then took the lead 8-6 on an Aaron Tennant jump shot, but it was short-lived as UBC came storming back. Both teams traded leads for a while until Grant Sheppard and Cohee hit a couple of baskets to give UBC a 22-17 lead after the first quarter.
Western was able to get back in the game in the second quarter, taking advantage of UBC’s shooting struggles. Omar Shiddo had 13 points hitting multiple three-pointers for the Mustangs and giving the team in grey and purple a 45-41 lead at the half.
Coming back from the half, UBC looked revitalized, Cohee had nine points while Clair put up 15 points, tying the game at the 54-point mark and giving his team the lead seconds later on a three-pointer. His three-pointer began a 12-1 run for UBC, ended the quarter leading 75-63.
In the fourth quarter, the Thunderbirds kept up their onslaught, adding 24 points to their total. Clair had another 13 points, closing out the second half with 28 points and ending his career on a very positive note. In the end, the Thunderbirds took the game 99-82.
Following the game, UBC head coach Kevin Hanson was honest about his feelings about his team’s bronze medal win
“It’s not the medal we wanted, of course, you don’t come to nationals to win bronze, but to win the last game gives you something positive to come back with,” said Hanson.
Carleton Ravens vs Dalhousie Tigers in championship: Ravens orchestrate a second-half comeback to win national championship
To end the tournament, the Carleton Ravens and Dalhousie Tigers took to the court to battle it out for the championship title.
The Ravens were looking to finish off their outstanding season with a gold medal. Winning meant back-to-back championships for the Ravens, and their 15th USports championship in program history.
The Tigers knew they had to play tough to take down the home team. Opening tip-off sent the ball into the hands of Dalhousie, and seconds later Sascha Kappos was in the air with a flashy dunk for the Tigers.
The first quarter did not lack intensity, as both teams fought for their baskets. After the first ten minutes, Dalhousie was up 15-13.
An easy little three-pointer from Alain Louis put Carleton in the lead to start off the second quarter. While the lead didn’t last long, Yasiin Joseph, Isaiah Osborne, Lloyd Pandi, each helped the Ravens hang on.
Dalhousie pulled ahead later in the quarter thanks to their ability to capitalize on loose balls, stay tough in the paint, and draw fouls. A deep three by Keevan Veinot put Dalhousie up 27-20 with only three minutes left in the half.
The first half came to a close with the Ravens trailing 36-24.
At the start of the third quarter, Pandi drove in for the basket, hoping to get the comeback started for the Ravens. Munis Tutu followed suit, taking the same angle as his teammate for the layup. With the crowd behind them, things were looking up for Carleton.
Louis stole the ball, running it down the court. Stopped by a Dalhousie defender, Louis found Biniam Grebrekidan under the basket waiting. Halfway through the third quarter, the Tigers led 46-39.
Carleton played a strong defensive game to earn the ball back. Turning steals and Dalhousie fouls into points, the Ravens had closed the point gap. At the end of three quarters, 54-50 was on the scoreboard, meaning the Ravens only had four points to make up.
Buckets by Louis and Pandi tied the game up at 54 with nine minutes left to play. But the Tigers did not roll over, and Cason made a pair of threes to keep Dalhousie in front with 62-58 on the board.
“I knew our team would keep fighting,” said Carson. “We never really give up until the buzzer goes.”
Aiden Warnholtz put up a three-pointer of his own. On the Ravens next offensive possession, Warnholtz drove to the basket to bring Carleton within two points. With the shot clock running out, Osborne attacked the basket to tie things up at 65.
The crowd went absolutely wild after a three-pointer by Tutu put the Ravens ahead 68-65. Grebrekidan tipped the ball in, getting fouled on the way up. He sunk his free throw to complete the three-point play.
Taking the game 74-65, Carleton proved that they were, once again, the best team in the nation.
Grebrekidan led the Ravens in points with 19, followed by Tutu who added 14, and Osborne with 12.
For Dalhousie, the silver medal marks the best performance in program history. Carson put up a game-high of 20 points for the Tigers.
The Ravens have earned back-to-back gold medals, and have a new USports championship banner to add to their growing collection.