Photo: Remi Yuan.
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Strong efforts from Pierre-Charles and Besselink leads both teams to victory

On Saturday, Nov. 19, the University of Ottawa’s men’s and women’s basketball teams made short work of their Algoma University counterparts in their season opener.

Men’s opener

Going into their first game of the year, the men’s team ranked fifth in the country. They dominated both offensive and defensive rebounds on their way to victory.

Backed by great defensive plays and 18 points from fourth-year forward Jean-Emmanuel Pierre-Charles, the Gees were dominant in all facets of the game. The Algoma University Thunderbirds, conversely, were coming off a Friday night loss to the first-ranked Carleton Ravens, and they could never quite get it together.

Defense was at the forefront early on, as both teams struggled to score. Caleb Agada would finally put the Gees on the board four minutes in, with a great drive right into the paint which he finished elegantly.

A nice tip by Pierre-Charles tied the game up with three and half minutes left, and the Gees never looked back, leading 21–15 after the first quarter.

The Gee-Gees carried their momentum into the second quarter, getting basket after basket. The Gees kept feeding their big men down low, and the home team couldn’t do anything to stop their success in the paint. Good rebounding generated opportunities for the Gees.

The Gees’ defense was a wall, giving up very little to the Thunderbirds. The score stood at 47–26 going into halftime.

The Gees continued their excellent work down low in the third quarter. Rebounds continued to propel the Gees’ advantage, and they finished the quarter up by 31 points.

The game tightened up in the fourth, with the Gees only outscoring their opponents by one point in the final quarter. The game would end 91–59, with the Gee-Gees eventually taking their foot off the gas pedal in the later minutes.

The Gees’ field goal percentage was off the charts all game. They shot 57.1 per cent from the floor while limiting their opponents to only 34.5 per cent shooting. The Gees also held a 21-rebound advantage over the home team.

Already ranked fifth at this point in the year, this victory should give the men’s team some added confidence moving forward in the regular season.

Women’s opener

While the women’s game against Algoma was not quite as lopsided, the Gees managed to come out on top of a Thunderbirds team that had just bested the number one-ranked Carleton Ravens the night before.

The U of O spoiled Algoma’s bid to win more games in their opening weekend than they did all of last season. The Gees’ bench came up big in their first game on the road.

The Gees showcased their speed throughout the first quarter, notably when fifth-year guard Julia Soriano stole the ball halfway through the frame, resulting in an Ottawa basket off the fast-break. Ottawa would end the quarter up 21–14.

Algoma pushed back hard to start the second quarter. However, the Gees managed to regain control, keeping Algoma hemmed into their half with an effective full-court press. The Gees rattled off eight quick points to take a 29–21 lead midway through the second frame.

Algoma would fight back again, before Ottawa pulled away with a 13–0 run. The Gees ended the half ahead by 14 points.

The U of O’s defense was all over the court in the third, and it seemed to tire out the home squad. Fourth-year guard Sarah Besselink connected on a nice jumper to make the score 49–27.

The Gees showcased some serious shooting and muscle down low in the quarter, demonstrating their skills in all aspects of the game. The Gees led 53–37 heading into the final quarter.

A big block by the Algoma defense early in the fourth put some life into their squad. The Thunderbirds fought back to within ten of the Gees, but Soriano hit back-to-back threes to bring the score to 62–47 with less than two minutes left, effectively sealing the game.

The Thunderbirds started fouling with 32 seconds on the clock, which was a unique tactic considering the game was definitely out of reach. The game would end with a Gee-Gees victory, 64–50.

The Gee-Gees put in a good effort to beat the Thunderbirds easily in their first contest of the year. Besselink was key for Ottawa, as she finished with 20 points, the most of any player.

Both teams will be in action next on Nov. 25 at Laurentian University. The women tip-off at 6 p.m., while the men begin at 8 p.m. The Gees play their first home games on Dec. 2, with the women starting at 6 p.m. and the men at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.