Sports

The Gees took the game 68-67 on Friday night. Photo: Parker Townes/The Fulcrum

Gees men’s basketball team wins game in last minute thanks to Epistola free throws

The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team pulled a major upset on Friday night, edging out the nationally No.1 ranked Carleton Ravens 68-67 in a Capital Hoops game for the ages at TD Place Arena.  

“It’s big, you try to tell yourself it’s just another league game like Panda (Game) is for football, but it’s hard to put that into perspective,” said Gees head coach James Derouin in his post-game press conference. 

“It’s big for our program,” he said. “We made some adjustments to our personnel and style of play, knowing maybe how it was going before wasn’t getting us where we wanted to go, so it feels vindicating.”    

Carleton opened the score early on, with a nice drive-by Yasiin Joseph. They added another basket seconds later before the boys in garnet and grey answered on a Marlon Kordrostami basket to make it 4-2. 

The game picked up from there, and Calvin Epistola got his first three-pointer of the game on a shot that stalled at the rim before eventually falling in, giving Ottawa an 8-6 lead. Carleton took back the lead a couple of seconds later before Epistola hit a jump shot to put the Gees ahead again. 

After a couple of successful free throws by Guillaume Pepin, Carleton came charging back and took the lead back on a dunk from Isiah Osborne who took advantage of a Sean Stoqua turnover. Stoqua scored the points back seconds later, hitting a three from downtown and giving a 15-14 lead to Ottawa with about half the quarter played.

To end the quarter at 20-18, Carleton took the lead back with three-pointers from Biniam Grebrekidan and Lloyd Pandi. 

A three-pointer by Pepin and a jumper by Epistola put the Gees ahead 27-26. Keeping up their lead, the Gees put full-court pressure on Carleton, working to get the ball back in their hands after each basket.

Two solid free-throws by Carleton’s Isaiah Osborne tied the game up at 30 points each. Stoqua and Raven’s Marcus Anderson exchanged points, driving the score up to 32. The teams continued their back-and-forth scoring efforts that lasted right to the end of the quarter, closing the half with a score of 34-34. 

Pepin had nine points and three rebounds for the Gees in the first half. Epistola, who was seemingly everywhere on the court in the first half, had eight points, three rebounds, and three assists.   

For Carleton, Osborne led the way with 11 points and three rebounds. 

Gage Sabean opened up the second half with an effortless three-pointer for the Gee-Gees, and he put up another just seconds later. Anderson responded with one of his own, keeping the game tight. Marlon Kordrostami added to the three-pointer trend to put the Gees up 42-39 halfway through the quarter. 

Slick ball-handling skills by Kevin Civil led to a quick layup to extend the Ottawa lead to 48-41. Carleton came roaring back with an Osborne jump shot, who then fouled Charles-Antoine Gaba. Gaba’s free-throw to make it 49-43. Minutes later, Gaba was fouled again and scored one more from the line to put Ottawa in the 50s.

With 13.9 seconds left in the third quarter, Gage Sabean fouled Carleton’s Alain Louis who hit one of his free throw shots. Going into the fourth quarter, Ottawa led 50-44.

Kordrostami opened up the fourth quarter with a beauty of a three-pointer to make it 53-44 Gees. Pepin pushed the lead further ahead about a minute later with a jump shot from deep in the Carleton key. 

Joseph scored to cut the Gees lead from 11 to nine. Carleton then added another jump shot on which Osborne was fouled, and the Raven hit the free throw with ease making it 55-49. 

Carleton continued their onslaught of the Gees with a three-pointer by Osborne from Orleans. 

Epistola broke the Ravens’ point streak with a nice layup of his own. Minger added two points moments later, making it 59-52 Gees.

But Carleton wasn’t ready to go away easily — Joseph hit a jump shot and teammate Stanley Mayambo hit a three-pointer to make it a tight 59-57. 

The Ravens then sent Minger to the line on a foul, and the guard from French Guyana hit one of his shots to make it a three-point game. Carleton replied less than 10 seconds later to make it 60-59 and then on a call from the officials Joseph ran down the court and gave Carleton a 61-60 lead. 

With the score at 63-60, Pepin headed to the line after a shot to the head from a Carleton defender. The Montreal native hit both of his shots to make it a one-point game. The Ravens answered with two of their own and with less than a minute and a half to go Ottawa was down three. Kordrostami pushed through the key and took a rebound to make it 65-64

With 53.7 seconds remaining Epistola managed to score. He then hit his free throw on a foul to make it 67-65 Ottawa.   

With 15.4 seconds remaining, Osborne was fouled by Sabean and headed to the line with Carleton down one, hitting both his shots to make it 67-66 Ravens. 

Head coach Derouin called a timeout to give his troops a break and plan out the last 15 seconds of play. Back on the court, Epistola got the ball from Stoqua, rushed the key and was fouled, tying the game on a free throw.

With 9.2 seconds left on the clock, Epistola gave Ottawa a one-point lead on a free throw and pushed Carleton to take a timeout. 

“It felt just like practice, we work on this every day and when I saw him go shoot I was like ‘OK, he’s going to hit those two, we’ll defence and then we’re gonna go home with a win,’ ” said Kordrostami about Calvin Epistola late-game free throws.

“I knew I missed the last two before, so I knew I had to put the school on my back,” Epistola said of his free throws.

The Ravens gave it their all on the final play and hit the rim multiple times on their last possession but could not sink the basket against the Gees defence. The buzzer rang out and Ottawa took the game 68-67. 

“At the end, we were solid on defence we got the rebound and we knew it was over then,” said Pepin.

Pepin finished with 15 points and six rebounds while Epistola finished with 14 points and six rebounds. Kordrostami led the Gee-Gees in rebounds with eight. 

Just over 8,100 people attended the first Capital Hoops game at TD Place Arena, according to Gee-Gees sports services information officer Spencer Murdock. 

The Gee-Gees will be back on the court on Friday when they take on the Brock Badgers at Montpetit Hall at 6 p.m. Ottawa will close out the season against the McMaster Marauders the next night at the same time.