Sports

Guillaume Pepin attempts to beat a McMaster defender in Saturday night’s game. Photo: Rame Abdulkader/The Fulcrum

Epistola and Stoqua brilliant in solid win

Saturday night saw the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team square off at home against the McMaster Marauders for their last game of the regular season.

Looking to extend their five-game winning streak and end the season on a high, the Gee-Gees sought to continue building on the momentum that will carry them into the playoffs.

McMaster, being another high-scoring top 10 team, promised an interesting challenge to the high-flying Gee-Gees.

The match began with a tribute and warm ovation, celebrating the careers of graduating guards Calvin Epistola and Sean Stoqua.

The Gee-Gees began the game with uneven pace as Guillaume Pepin opened the scoring with a jump shot. However, a flurry of impressive field goals from opposition player Jordan Henry saw McMaster take the early lead, up 15-8 at the quarter’s half.

With the University of Ottawa behind, Epistola stepped up with three jump shots and a free throw to put the home team on the same level as the Marauders at 17-17 with three minutes left to go to the first frame.

A dominating performance in the paint from Pepin saw the Gee-Gees find their rhythm and settle into the match as the first quarter ended with Ottawa up 24-23.

The Gees opened the second-quarter scoring with a three-pointer from Pepin to put them up 27-23. He continued the scoring with another field goal, following it up with a defensive rebound and assist for an Epistola jump shot. Ottawa was on fire.

The Gees went on a seven-point unanswered run, putting them up 15 points with six minutes to go.

Ottawa dominated inside the paint, grabbing all available rebounds and blocking any drives. McMaster was forced to resort to futile field goal attempts, going seven of 20 with a 35 per cent from field goal range on the night.

The Gees continued their strong run but with two minutes left, the Marauders rallied for six consecutive points. However, the big lead meant comfort for Ottawa as they ended the half up 52-43

At the break, Calvin Epistola had a high of 17 points, three assists and two rebounds, showcasing why he is held in such high regard around USports. McMaster player Jordan Henry also pulled up an impressive display, ultimately running his team’s plays from start to finish.

The third quarter began, and Ottawa ultimately showed why they were second in the league. A comfortable dominance saw the Gees open scoring for the third time, with another Epistola jump shot.

McMaster capitulations had the Gees easily capitalizing with continuous basket-to-basket drives. At the half and up 16 points, the home team looked ready to see out the match.

Brilliant team plays flowed as Charles-Antoine Gaba made back to back jump shots and a physical offensive rebound to put the Gees up 20 points with three minutes to go in the third quarter.

McMaster’s seeming over-reliance on Jordan saw them halt for most of the quarter, but once again in the dying minutes pushed for a run of points. Just as the Marauders gained momentum the quarter ended with Ottawa up 15 points, 75-60.

The fourth quarter played much the same with the Gees up 87-69 at the half. As patterned, the away team made a push near the end closing the point gap, but it proved futile as the game ended with a 98-82 win.

“Defensively we could have been better, but you saw how physical the McMaster boys were,” said head coach James Derouin after the game. ”I’m very happy with how offensively energetic we were and the score reflects that.”

The Gees now head into the playoffs looking to make the most of the good energy around the team.

“The momentum we have gained from these last few matches will be big in our upcoming playoff push, we hope to make the most of it,” said Derouin.

With the 2019-20 OUA regular season behind them, the Gee-Gees now head to the playoffs with high hopes. heGees will begin their playoff push with a quarterfinals game on Saturday at Montpetit Hall at 6 p.m. The Gee-Gees opponent is still undecided as a wildcard game

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