In one of the season's most anticipated games, the Gee-Gees men's basketball team gave the top-ranked and undefeated Carleton Ravens everything they could handle, losing a tight 69-65 contest in the Bytown Battle on Wednesday night.
Like any battle of top teams, there was a feeling out process that mainly hinged on the teams defending, rather than attacking on offence. Carleton jumped out to a 20-17 lead after the first quarter, but it was in the second frame that the Gee-Gees showed their rivals
Ottawa outscored Carleton 16-9 in the second quarter, with the Ravens posting their lowest score of any quarter this season. The Gee-Gees led 33-29 at halftime, something no other team can say this season.
A Ravens run and offensive lull for the Gee-Gees in the third quarter saw the Ravens reclaim and extend their lead to as many as 10 with 1:47 left in the third.
The Gee-Gees came out with great pressure to start the fourth quarter. With Calvin Epistola leading the charge, Ottawa erased the Carleton lead, bringing it down to two points in the final minute of play.
Unfortunately for the Gee-Gees, their race against the clock was unsuccessful and the Ravens were able to walk away the victor by a narrow four-point margin.
Epistola logged an outstanding 30 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Sean Stoqua added 12 points, while Thomas Chilton played a massive role in keeping the game close by pulling down 14 rebounds.
In all, the Gee-Gees outrebounded and narrowly outshot the top-ranked Ravens from beyond the arc, however, it was the turnover margin and ensuing 20 points off of those turnovers that spelled defeat for Ottawa.
The teams will have their next crack at each other come Feb. 7 for the annual Capital Hoops Classic, for the first time being played at the Arena at TD Place.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
"They're learning that if they defend and rebound they can stay with anybody and that's what they did tonight. We get [Carleton] once, maybe twice, maybe three more times, so I think for confidence this was huge. I think they're hungry and know they could've won this game, that's something that I like moving forward." – Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin.
The Gee-Gees will take a brief pause for the exam and holiday break, but are slated to take on three Quebec opponents in exhibition action before the New Year. Ottawa will take on Bishop's, McGill, and host UQAM at the Classique Olga Hrycak from Dec. 27-29 in Montreal.
The team will be back in OUA action on the road at Laurentian and Nipissing in Northern Ontario on Jan. 10 and 11. Both games will be streaming live on OUA.tv.