Fresh from a disappointing performance at Carleton the night before, an inspired Brock Badgers team entered Montpetit Hall on Saturday, looking to upend the higher-ranked Gee-Gees.
In a playoff-like battle, the Gee-Gees staged a thrilling comeback to down the Badgers by a 94-91 final margin.
The first quarter foreshadowed the rest of the game as the Gee-Gees narrowly outscored the Badgers 21-20. From the tip-off, the Ottawa offence ran through freshman point guard Kevin Civil, who racked up 14 first half points.
In the second frame, the Badgers aggressively controlled the pace, establishing their first healthy lead of the game. In the waning minutes of the second quarter, Brock pushed their lead as large as 12, however the Gee-Gees were consistently able to make key shots to keep their deficit manageable.
Brock took a 49-40 lead into the halftime break, however the Gee-Gees quickly stole the momentum to start the third quarter. Guillaume Pépin and Calvin Epistola paced Ottawa as they began to climb back closer to the lead, aided by a 25-20 outscoring effort in the third, the Gee-Gees had mostly closed the gap heading into the final frame.
A buzzer-beating three-pointer for the Badgers made the final score look closer than the final minutes indicated.
Civil led all scorers with 23 points, while also chipping in three assists. Sabean (20), Pépin (15), Morrison (13), Epistola (13), and Robinson (10) were the other Gee-Gees scorers in double-figures on the evening.
"We responded well," said Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin. "I thought we competed better defensively in the second half. We made big shots and big plays, and again Kevin makes a big jump there with his best game as a freshman."
The Gee-Gees earned their fifth-consecutive win, their first in the regular season against a nationally-ranked opponent.
"This is 100 per cent a great feeling," said Morrison. "In the regular season, this is our first big win, a ranked team with nationals and final four experience. We handled business, but it was a little too close for comfort, a bad first half will really do that to us, there's still some things we need to clean up."
With the team's two wins on the weekend, they are now headed for games on the road against Guelph and Algoma, both teams that have struggled at times this season. At this point in the season, the Gee-Gees look to be finding a rhythm, despite still missing key pieces in Sean Stoqua and Olivier Cadieux.
"Every opportunity we get to be in those type of games is valuable for us to gain experience," said Robinson. "When February and March come and it's playoff time, we know we've had the experience. We lost a couple of close ones in the preseason, but now when it really counts in a big game against a ranked opponent, we were able to pull it off."
The Gee-Gees will be in Guelph on Friday at 8 p.m., before going to Sault Ste. Marie to play Algoma on Sunday at 3 p.m. Both games will be streaming live on OUA.tv.