Sports

Men’s basketball grabs 10th consecutive win; women’s team defeats Western

The Gee-Gees’ basketball season began for both the men’s and women’s teams Nov. 1–2  with two back-to-back games against the Western Mustangs and Windsor Lancers.

Women’s team

The Gees kicked off their season in style because for the first time since 2004, the women’s basketball team was ranked in the top 10 for the first week of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) rankings.

The women’s team had a slow start against the Mustangs, as Western dominated on the boards and led the score 13–4 in the first five minutes. Finally, to end the Mustangs’ run, second-year social sciences student Catherine Traer stole the ball and passed it down the court to third–year communication student Kellie Ring for a solid finish. The Gees came out in the second quarter with tighter defence, limiting Western’s opportunities to score. Second-year health sciences student and point guard Julia Soriano hit two consecutive threes and a basket at the top of the key to close the gap to 15–22.

Soriano said that the weeks of preparation helped break through the nerves and get the job done.

“We had eight weeks to prepare for this and coming into the game I felt that we knew everything that Western was going to bring us. We may not have showed it in the first half, but that was just first-game jitters,” she said.

With transition points and easy buckets, the Gees had their first lead of the game at 35–33. The team vets showed patience in the second half, seeing the court and reading the defence. The Gee-Gees finished the game with a score of 71–66 over the Mustangs.

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Fifth–year international affairs student Angela Tilk said the preseason was a good preparation for their first regular season game.

“Our preseason was really good. It diversified opportunities and we got to play and adjust on the fly and when (the Mustangs) changed their tempo we were able to adjust,” said Tilk.

Nov. 2, the Gee-Gees took on the Windsor Lancers, three-time CIS national champions, and came into the game prepared. In the first quarter, both teams came out strong with aggressive play and limited each other’s scoring opportunities. The Gees ended the quarter with a 15–13 lead over the Lancers. During the second quarter, Windsor outscored Ottawa by 11 points and capitalized on turnovers.

Coming into the second half, Windsor drained most shots and their assist-to-turnover ratio ended 11–11. The Gee-Gees struggled in this area of their game, which put them behind the entire third quarter. Ottawa came out with a stronger fourth quarter but couldn’t come back. The game ended with a loss of 88–64.

After the game, head coach Andy Sparks said the team is still missing their identity and they need to build that chemistry.

“We’re still at the point where there’s not a lot of flow and not a lot of cohesion for us,” he said. “We had a pretty good idea of what they’d do offensively and we didn’t do a good job defending the ball.”

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Men’s team

The men’s team began its season with a great start. CIS standings ranked the Gees at third in the country behind the Carleton Ravens and the University of Alberta Golden Bears.

The men began their weekend playing against Western. Starting the game, the Gee-Gees came out strong, scoring 28–18 over Western Nov. 1. What started out as a rebound between second–year international economics and development student Mehdi Tehani and Western player Anthony Spiridis quickly turned into a brawl between the two teams. Despite the bickering, head coach James Derouin was proud of his team throughout the game.

“I knew we would struggle with the physicality and the aggressiveness early and it’s just kind of a wake-up call, but I thought overall we got into our rhythm,” said Derouin. “We stood up for ourselves but kept our composure. We kept it under control.”

The quarter ended with fourth-year economics student Johnny Berhanemeskel knocking down a step-back three-point shot and falling to the floor. The fans grew louder and Western walked out of the first half discouraged. The second half continued with great results for the Gee-Gees, and every player contributed to the win.  The game ended with a score of 104–76 for the Gee-Gees.

Tehani admitted the team is confident right now but wants to improve so they can rank number two in the country.

“We are a very confident team right now and we should be in the top two. We know that Western is a pretty physical team and we had to be ready for that,” he said.

Before the Windsor game on Nov. 2, Berhanemeskel discussed the team’s focus and what they should expect from their adversaries.

“We are going to respect them going in and we know it will be a battle no matter what,” said Berhanemeskel. “It’s a good test to start off the season. We’ll be working on our defence and closing out possessions with rebounds.”

Starting the game, the coaches from the Gee-Gees and the Lancers both received technical fouls and the aggressive tone was set. The first quarter ended with two consecutive dunks from second-year computer science student Caleb Agada and the Gees led 26–18 over the Lancers.

The garnet and grey kept a 10-point lead throughout most of the first half but the Lancers closed the gap to 66–65 during the third quarter. The Gees came back by knocking down some key shots and dominating rebounds. Ottawa ended the game 96–85, adding a 10th win to their current streak.

Berhanemeskel said it was a great game and he wished every game was that entertaining.

“We will probably see that team again in March, it was a good battle and it was fun beating those guys,” he said. “I wish we could play games like that every night. It was good to just play in front of the crowd, against CIS teams, and everyone came out with good support.”