The Gee-Gees men's basketball team hung right with the Dalhousie Tigers Friday evening during their Final 8 quarterfinal matchup at TD Place, ultimately falling by a 67-63 score in front of 3,165 raucous fans.
"You fall in love with that team and how they don't give up," said Gee-Gees men's basketball coach James Derouin. "We held a team that averages 90 down to 60, but we just didn't have the small details tonight – free throws and key shot making when we had good looks."
The teams started the game slowly, playing each other tight. Shamar Burrows of the Tigers nailed a buzzer beater to tie the score at 17 after the first quarter.
At the half, Ottawa's free throw percentage sat at 35.7 percent, compared to Dalhousie's 85.7 percent. Epistola sent the crowd into a frenzy when he cut to the hoop to give Ottawa a 26-24 lead with four minutes left in the half. However, Epistola found himself in foul trouble after being called for consecutive offensive fouls.
The third quarter featured swings of momentum for both sides. Ottawa opened up a five-point lead with the help of seven straight points from Pépin. The Tigers responded in turn, taking a six-point lead with under four minutes left. The AUS Champions held a 48-46 lead at the end of three.
The Gee-Gees were kept pointless through the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, allowing the Tigers to build up a ten-point advantage. Ottawa went on an eight-point run though, making it an interesting contest.
Dalhousie would pull away down the stretch, advancing to the semifinals of the Final 8 tournament.
Ottawa shot 36.7 percent, 21.1 percent from three and 55.6 percent from the free throw line. Dalhousie converted at a 41.4 percent rate from the floor, 53.3 percent from beyond the arc and 84.6 percent from the stripe.
"With the draw that was put forth, I knew right away this was a semifinal," said Derouin. "That's what can happen when two really good teams play each other – a three-point game or a four-point game. I thought their experience at the Nationals was the difference."
Ottawa moves into the consolation bracket of the tournament and will take on the Bishop's Gaiters on Saturday, March 7 at the Ravens' Nest on the campus of Carleton University. Tip-off is at 5:00 p.m.
The Tigers will face the UBC Thunderbirds in the semifinals on Saturday, March 7 at 8:00 p.m. at TD Place.