Espitola and Civil put on a show for the home crowd at Montpetit Hall. Photo: Bridget Coady/Fulcrum
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Espistola and Civil put on a show for the home crowd at Montpetit Hall

The University of Ottawa men’s basketball team hoped to sweep the University of Laurier Golden Hawks in the tail end of a basketball doubleheader following their female counterparts blow out win over Laurier.

The Gee-Gees in their home greys looked to avenge last year’s 79-71 loss to the Golden Hawks on opening weekend and start their season the right way.

Hostilities started well for the Gee-Gees, who went on an early nine-point drive thanks in part to a nice Calvin Epistola three-pointer to open the game. 

Epistola and Guillaume Pepin both had a strong first half with five-point each while fourth-year player Marlon Kordrostami three offensive rebounds and one on the defensive side of the ball for a total of four. 

“I feel like I could have done a lot better guarding Kemel Archer he’s a great offensive rebounder, a big man,” said Kordrostami on his performance after the game. “It’s a great test to see where I am, and I feel like I can prove myself, so I feel really good about my game.”

For Laurier, Ali Sow had four points and Ntore Habimana had three rebounds in the first quarter.

After one quarter the Gees led 15-6 and were all over the Golden Hawks. 

The second quarter brought a tougher affair for the Gees, who saw their lead melt away.

Laurier had a strong start to the second quarter. Ben Stevens and Ali Sow had a couple of jump shots each to tie the game at 19.

Following the Golden Hawks’ early quarter drive, both teams traded baskets for a while, with Laurier taking a 29-24 lead with three minutes left in the quarter. Epistola seemingly effortlessly tied the game and then had back-to-back three-pointers to give Ottawa a six-point lead.

Sow then had a couple of jump shots for Laurier to make it a two-point game but at the buzzer, sophomore guard Kevin Civil had arguably one of the nicest baskets ever scored at Montpetit Hall.  a basket from behind the Gee-Gee logo at halfcourt, sending the crowd to their feet as he ran off the court to the dressing room.

“That’s my guy, as soon as I saw the ball go I knew it was going in,” said teammate Epistola, who was running beside Civil as he took the shot.

“That’s my guy, as soon as I saw the ball go I knew it was going in,” said teammate Epistola, who was running beside Civil as he took the shot.

At halftime, the Gees led 38-33 in a very close game. Epistola at the half already had 19 points on the night, while nobody else on the Gee-Gees had more than five. However, third-year player Borys Minger had five rebounds on the backboard, including four in his own key.

Coming back from the half both teams seemed off, missing each shot they should have sunk. Finally Epistola and Sow arguably the two best players on the night score to get both teams going. 

“Calvin Epistola had a great game, a great first half,” said head coach James Derouin after the game. “You got to take what the defense gives you, I thought he was shooting good looks, he’s been good so far this season. It’s incredible: If he can see the rim there’s a good chance it’s gonna go (in the basket), he’s our leader.”

As with the second quarter, the Golden Hawks managed to tie the game, this time at 48. But similar to the second quarter, the Gee-Gees offense woke up after Laurier tied the game. Thomas Chilton, Quinton Hamilton and Epistola all had baskets on a 12-point drive to close out the quarter.

After three-quarters, Ottawa led 61-52 and Epistola continued his dominant performance, adding another seven points in the third quarter

With the Gee-Gees holding down an eight-point lead at the start of the quarter, the fourth quarter was a tense one as the Gee-Gees tried to hold on to their lead against a feisty Golden Hawks team.

The Gee-Gees kept their drive alive with Guillaume Pepin and Epistola adding to the lead to make it a 23-3, drive something an opposing team rarely recovers against in a basketball game.

But then Laurier started crawling back. Sow made a jump shot and Laurier got going.  Habimana had a three-pointer and a jump shot while Kemel Archer had two jump points.   

However, disaster struck for Laurier as Sow was ejected following fouls after a play that sent Gee-Gee Sean Stoqua flying into Laurier’s bench.

The ejection angered Laurier head coach Justin Serresse, who went into a tirade after the referee called out Sow for “flopping at least twice” as part of his fouls.

Serresse screamed at the referee before ultimately getting the boot after screaming. 

“Every time we come into fucking Ottawa we run into this bullshit!” 

After the game, when cooler heads had prevailed, Serresse apologized for his behavior

“The fact they kicked my guy out nowadays it’s a one-game suspension, I was explaining to him that he doesn’t understand the importance of that call you got to make sure that he (referee) get it right, they didn’t want to talk,” said Sorresse ”It is what it is, I got to learn and be better for my guys, I’m very disappointed with what I’ve done”

Laurier head coach Justin Serresse. Photo: Bridget Coady/Fulcrum

Laurier made things interesting with less than a minute left, cutting into Ottawa’s lead and reducing their deficit to only six points thanks to a nice layup from Matt Minutillo.

But, Ottawa ultimately held on in the end, avenging last year’s loss with an 80-72 statement win against the sixth-ranked program in the country.

“We weren’t thrilled about losing to them at home last year, it’s something that as a team the veterans that were there last year discussed, we don’t like to lose to anybody at home,” said Derouin after the game. “It’s a huge OUA matchup to start the season, that’s a great team they defend well, there in our stuff they gave us fits all night and it’s a big win for our team.”

The Gee-Gees beat the University of Waterloo Warriors on Saturday 90-62 to move their record to 2-0.

The Gees will open up a four-game road trip on Friday in Oshawa when they face the OUA’s new men’s basketball team the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks. 

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