THE GEE-GEES MEN’S basketball team played with style and pizzazz against the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks, who were looking to maintain their perfect record on Dec. 2 at Montpetit Hall. Despite the Gee’s chemistry and their speed on the court, the Hawks succeeded in capturing a 77–76 win in the last 30 seconds of play.
The first quarter saw Laurier take an early lead, but the Gees rebounded with explosive plays. Fifth-year centre Jordan Vig dunked the ball off an assist to bring the Gees within a basket from Laurier, and two three-pointers from first-year point guard Michael L’Africain helped propel the Gees into the lead. They went into the second quarter leading 26–21.
Throughout the last 10 minutes of the first half, the Gees maintained their composure and finished the half with a three-point lead.
Head coach James Derouin was pleased with the Gees’ play.
“I thought our transition game that we worked on all week started to look a lot better,” he said. “I thought we were pushing the ball well when we needed to.”
The second half saw Laurier tighten their defence and gain on a couple of hot streaks. The Gees were able to adjust and come through with their own sequence. This included some big defensive blocks from Vig that were converted into points with an alley-oop from fourth-year guard Warren Ward and a stylish layup from second-year guard Johnny Berhanemeskel.
The Garnet and Grey struggled, however, to keep up momentum whenever they stepped up to the free-throw line.
“We were eight for 16 from the free-throw line. That’s 50 per cent, that stands out to me right away,” said Derouin. “Those are [mistakes] you just can’t make against a quality, quality opponent.”
The Gees were still up by one at the end of the third, and the game got closer throughout the last 10 minutes of play.
With 30 seconds left, the game was tied up at 74 points apiece. Vig was good for another steal that Ward turned into a layup.
Fans were on their feet expecting the win when, with less than nine seconds left on the clock, Laurier wing Kale Harrison made a shot from outside, putting the score at 77–76. The Garnet and Grey made a few desperate attempts to take it back, but in the end were ultimately unsuccessful.
L’Africain was visibly disappointed after the game.
“I thought we played some tough [defence], but we had to make some better shots,” he said.
When asked what needed to change for the following night against the University of Waterloo Warriors, he emphasized teamwork.
“[We need to] stick to the game plan, not just go as individuals. You know we get so close and we just have to stay together, and we’ve got to capitalize on our opportunities.”
The Gee-Gees were able to rebound against the Warriors on Dec. 3, winning convincingly 119–76. Ward ended the night with 27 points and six rebounds, and first-and second-year forwards Vikas Gill and Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue scored 20 and 17 points respectively.
The Garnet and Grey end their 2011 regular season with a 4-4 record in the Ontario University Athletics East division.