Win shows a strong start for last year’s silver medal squadPhoto courtesy of Marta Kierkus
In the first match of a four-game pre-season series where the Gee-Gees will face teams from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the garnet and grey defeated the Indiana Hoosiers 109-101 in a packed house at CÉGEP Champlain in Longueil, Que.
The Hoosiers played most of their starters for a lot of the game, but every Hoosier who played managed to score at least a point. Troy Williams led Indiana not only in scoring and blocks, but also in highlight plays. He had a handful of rim-shattering dunks to delight the crowd and a steal worthy of the SportsCentre highlight reel, which he followed with an incredible layup at the end of the third quarter.
Gee-Gees third-year Mike L’Africain led the way for Ottawa. It seemed every time Indiana went on a run, or started to pull away, L’Africain would hit a three or a clutch jumper.
The Gee-Gees shooting guard doesn’t take the preseason lightly. L’Africain said he comes into every game prepared and ready for the competition.
“It was personal,” he said. “You always want to prove that you belong somewhere and every time we play these (NCAA) teams, me and Johnny (Berhanemeskel) take it personal. It’s fun because they always underestimate us and then their eyes light up.’’
Fifth-year Berhanemeskel, who like L’Africain had 27 points, did his best Kobe impression by driving to the hole late in the fourth and finishing with a dagger and one layup.
Third-year swingman Caleb Agada also had a tremendous game on the score sheet, finishing up with 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Agada had the highlight of the afternoon as he drove down with fury for the reverse baseline dunk midway through the fourth quarter.
The team is expecting a lot from Agada in his third season with the Gees.
“Third year is usually the year when you come out,” said assistant coach Justin Serresse. “We’re expecting some stuff out of him.”
The crowd seemed to favour the rival Hoosiers for the first three quarters, likely due in part to Williams’ big play ability, but that dynamic flipped in the fourth.
It was only a pre-season game, but head coach James Derouin’s team looked to be in mid-season form. Though the regular season is still three months away, the Gees look to be in an early position to make a run at finally dethroning the Carleton Ravens.