Ottawa (14-1) 78, Saint Mary’s (12-5) 69… 6’3″ Caleb Agada had 25 points and 12 rebounds and was instrumental down the stretch with 8 points including a breakaway dunk during a 10-0 run that iced the game as the Gee-Gees captured the championship at the Shoveller with a nice win over the pesky Huskies. The undermanned Huskies hung in on the offensive glass and at the foul line against a Gee-Gees squad that played 10 guys liberally with numerous different lineups on the floor until the final 7 minutes when Coach James Derouin reinserted his starting five and that catalyzed the game deciding run when Saint Mary’s went scoreless for 6 consecutive minutes. 6’5″ Brian Rouse had 19 to lead the Huskies who also got 15 apiece from 6’2″ Kemar Alleyne and 6’6″ Theon Reefer but those three and 5’9″ point guard Marquis Clayton combined to shoot just 21-63 from the field including 2-16 from downtown, further illustrating how important the offensive glass was in keeping SMU in the game – Huskies had it down to 3 with 7 minutes left before Agada and crew took over defensively. Conversely, Ottawa shot 12 for 30 from downtown including 6’6″ Matt Plunkett‘s 4 for 5 effort; Plunkett added 6 rebounds while 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles was solid with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Teams combined for just 19 turnovers although the whistles were blowing fast and furious until the final 7 minutes when the referees let the teams play and called only 3 total fouls. Derouin was assessed a technical foul midway through the third quarter after what he felt was some questionable decisions and the game appeared to re-focus on the players after that. Saint Mary’s continues their AUS regular season next Saturday and Sunday in St. John’s, facing the Memorial Seahawks for a pair of games on the road while Ottawa travels to Waterloo to face the Warriors next Friday followed by a date next Saturday with Laurier Golden Hawks in the first meeting between the Gee-Gees and their former Assistant Justin Serresse, now the head man at Laurier. Dalhousie defeated St. FX in the third place game.
A large reason why Jonah Taussig’s Saint Mary’s Huskies have reached this afternoon’s Shoveller Final is the fine work of what is a patchwork group of unheralded big men who, until this past Thursday, were after thoughts in the SMU rotation. But with injury comes opportunity and in the spirit of “next man up” reserves 6’8″ third-year Brent Martindale (Kingston Holy Cross) plus a pair of freshmen: 6’8″ Brett Parrott and 6’7″ Tristan Hyde all have eased the burden of not having 6’8″ Osman Barrie and 6’7″ Ash Lual available. Martindale, in his third season with the Huskies program, redshirted last season after averaging just 8 minutes and 2 points per game as a freshman in 2014-15, has burst onto the scene over the past two days culminating in yesterday’s 16 point effort in the win over Dalhousie. Martindale is averaging 14 points and 4.5 rebounds for the tournament and is perfect from the foul line. Parrott ensured SMU held a double digit halftime lead against Dal, scoring 13 points in the first half including 11 when Saint Mary’s took a second quarter lead. The graduate of Kitchener’s Sir John A. MacDonald has a smooth perimeter stroke and can make defenders pay for over-helping. Hyde, the freshman from Bedford, NS, ran into early foul trouble yesterday but had 10 points and 5 boards against Queen’s before fouling out. While the work of Huskies reserve forwards has been impressive, the trio will encounter an entirely new animal this afternoon with Ottawa’s imposing front line of 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles and 6’7″ Brody Maracle. Pierre-Charles had a game-high 21 points last night vs. St. FX and helped Gee-Gees dominate the offensive glass, especially in the second half. Taussig will have to decide rather early whether or not to double down on the slick Maracle who is crafty around the rim and capable of scoring when left alone in one-on-one coverage. Meanwhile, 6’3″ Caleb Agada will meet another fine wing player in 6’6″ Theon Reefer – expect the referees to have an impact on today’s game – during last night’s Dal/SMU match, almost 60 fouls were called and all key players including Reefer were in foul trouble for much of the game. Agada managed to avoid that fate in the semi-final but played only 17 minutes in the opening day win over UPEI due to fouls. Ottawa has been getting solid work at both ends from 6’0″ Calvin Epistola and coach James Derouin may need to use the quick-footed sophomore to check 5’9″ Marquis Clayton, who continues to be impactful. The highly-ranked Gee-Gees are trying to capture the Shoveller title for the second time in three seasons and sweep three AUS opponents while Saint Mary’s makes their pitch for re-consideration into a Top 10 ranking which would be reasonable if they can pull what would be regarded as an upset this afternoon at DalPlex. Game time is 3 PM Atlantic and 2 PM ET on AUSTV with Allan April on the call.
Manitoba (9-9) 86, Alberta (17-3) 78... Most forecasters across the country had Manitoba Bisons in the pre-season Top 10/CW championship discussion. However, an uneven exhibition effort followed by a treacherous start to the Canada West regular season – 8 of Bisons ten CW games before Christmas were against Top 10 or last season’s Final 4 teams – had prognosticators second guessing their initial picks. Consider the Bisons on the road back to the championship discussion after last night’s important win over Alberta Golden Bears in the championship of the 50th Wesmen Classic at Winnipeg. Bisons win somewhat-offsets Alberta’s sweep of the Bisons in Winnipeg last month. Producing another dominant defensive effort, Bisons 6’4″ Keith Omoerah (10 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists) copped his second consecutive tournament MVP award, doing a stellar job making life difficult for Bears star 6’7″ wing Mamadou Gueye while Manitoba also got a sterling effort at both ends from 6’3″ Justus Alleyn who was primarily tasked with guarding Alberta’s emerging 6’1″ point guard Austin Waddoups and Alleyn was generally equal to the task, denying the slick scoring point the ball and not allowing open penetration. Bisons are also much better now that 6’7″ Joey Nitychoruk is providing a consistent effort off the bench – the long, active forward who transferred back home from Lakehead is creative around the rim, runs the floor well and provides solid work defending and rebounding. Nitychoruk was named a tournament all-star. Alberta’s 6’8″ Brody Clarke shook off a tough start to finish with 21 points and 9 rebounds for Alberta which found it difficult to defeat a solid Bisons team three times within a month away from home. Alleyn finished with 22 points on 7-10 shooting including 3-5 from three while 5’11” A.J. Basi knocked down three early 3’s and finished with 12 points for Manitoba. But Omoerah’s work defending and rebounding (established tournament records for rebounds in a game in the semi-final and most total rebounds over 3 games) set the tone for a Bisons team looking to recapture a path to a long, fruitful post season.
Ottawa (13-1) 83, St. FX (9-9) 65… 6’3″ Caleb Agada flirted with a triple-double, scoring 15 points, adding 8 rebounds, 12 assists and 3 steals as the Gee-Gees broke open a relatively tight game with an early third quarter run, using their entire bench in a victory over the X-Men to advance to the Shoveller championship game. Agada, saddled with foul trouble virtually from the beginning of Ottawa’s first round win over UPEI, got himself free off the dribble and found open teammates, especially 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles who led all scorers with 21 points and 8 rebounds. Gee-Gees dominated the glass in the second half, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds after halftime and benefiting from 20 X turnovers overall. St. FX shot just 4 for 17 from three-point land while Gee-Gees made 12 in what was not Ottawa’s finest perimeter shooting effort of the season. With Gee-Gees up just 3 early in the third, Agada got going, leading a 16-7 run that established a double digit lead for the rest of the game that grew to 16 on an Agada three with 6 minutes remaining. For the second consecutive game, Ottawa got a meaningful contribution at both ends from 6’1″ Calvin Epistola, who went 3-4 from downtown for 11 points and created several turnovers with picks and jumping into the passing lane (11 points, 4 steals in 21 minutes). 6’7″ Kevin Bercy had 21 points and 10 rebounds for X but only 8 after halftime while 6’7″ Cameron Walker added 16 for St. FX who will meet the host Tigers in the third place game this afternoon.
Saint Mary’s (12-4) 79, Dalhousie (13-5) 76… Getting strong efforts from two unlikely sources, Huskies held off a pair of fourth-quarter comeback attempts to defeat the Tigers on their home court and advanced to the Shoveller Memorial championship game against uOttawa. Playing without their starting front court of 6’8″ Osman Barrie and 6’7″ Achiul Lual (14.4 ppg), coach Jonah Taussig reached deep into his bench and was rewarded as 6’8″ Brett Parrott came off the bench to knock down 3 3’s, part of his 11 point second quarter that gave Huskies a double digit lead they would not relinquish. As well, unheralded 6’8″ reserve Brent Martindale started and had 9 of his team-high 16 points after halftime, including a momentum-breaking “and 1″ midway through the fourth quarter. As importantly, Martindale made life difficult for Tigers 6’3” Kash Lawrence, protecting the rim and hauling down tough rebounds as Saint Mary’s showed that their is quality depth on their roster. Parrott, who originally committed to Nipissing out of Kitchener’s Sir John A. MacDonald but decided on Saint Mary’s, came into the game averaging just 2.8 ppg but scored 13 points in the first half as Huskies built leads as large as 17. Martindale, a forward out of Kingston Holy Cross and the Ottawa Guardsmen club program, had his second consecutive impact game, complementing SMU’s stable of athletic wings and guards. Huskies had to deal with major foul trouble all evening as 6’5″ Theon Reefer, 6’5″ Brian Rouse and 5’9″ Marquis Clayton all were saddled with 4 fouls apiece by late in the third. Dal did make a run early in the fourth, creating turnovers with full-court pressure that got the game back to within 5. Coach Taussig then made a critical move, reinserting his three stars into the game with 9 minutes remaining. While Reefer and Rouse eventually fouled out, the move early in the fourth re-energized SMU and the lead was built back up to double digits in a game where 56 total fouls were called. 6’2″ Kemar Alleyne was key during a third-quarter stretch with his fellow starters on the bench, scoring 12 of his 15 points – 8 from the foul line – to keep Huskies ahead. Later when Tigers mount their final rally, Clayton hit a dagger 3 and Huskies advanced to the championship game. Lawrence finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds to lead Dal while 6’0″ Ritchie Kanza-Mata came alive after halftime, picking Huskies guards to create turnovers and knocking down shots, and getting 15 of his 17 points after halftime. Huskies will face the Ottawa Gee-Gees this afternoon at 3 PM AT/2 PM ET for the Shoveller championship.
Alberta (17-2) 82, Victoria (8-10) 76… Golden Bears pulled away midway through the fourth quarter as 6’7″ Mamadou Gueye (game-high 21 points) got to the rim and 6’1″ Austin Waddoups hit the go-ahead 3 against the UVic zone as Alberta advanced to the championship game of the 50th Wesmen Classic. Alberta held double digit leads in the first half but the Vikes jumped ahead by 3 early in the fourth as two reserves: 6’3″ wing Hassan Abdullahi (13 points, 8 rebounds) and 6’1″ guard J.J. Hamel-Carey combined to shoot 6-10 from three-point range and an upset brewed. But Alberta clamped down defensively and Waddoups (19 points, 6 assists), finding open shooters (Bears went 12-25 from three-point land as a group) or 6’7″ Brody Clarke (18 points, 11 rebounds on 8-16 shooting) inside, allowing Bears to pull away. Wayne Tucker Jr. led Vic with 15 points and hit a couple of late threes to keep it tight but Vikes could not overcome Bears depth and shot making. The game got emotional late as Vikes 6’9″ Grant Sitton was called for a flagrant foul for wrapping his legs around a Bear as Sitton fell to the ground and Alberta’s 6’2″ Dwan Williams, coming to the aid of the teammate, confronted Sitton by standing over him and was assessed a technical foul. Sitton later fouled out of the game. Victoria meets Winnipeg in the third-place game this afternoon.
Also, in Montreal, UNBC defeated the host UQAM Citadins 86-80 in the second game of the first day of the Olga Hyrcak Classique. Timberwolves face Guelph this afternoon followed by UQAM against Memorial.
Memorial (8-7) 77, Guelph (6-6) 66… 6’9″ Vasilije Curcic dominated inside with 32 points, adding 9 rebounds and 4 assists as the Seahawks continued their fine play with a solid non-conference win over the Gryphons as the Olga Hrycak Classic opened in Montreal at UQAM on Thursday night. Seahawks took the lead for good in the second quarter as 6’4″ Kieran Hawksley added 10 points including 2 threes, continuing his recent consistent effort. Seahawks Head Coach Peter Benoite was happy with his team’s defensive effort and admitted that the game “wasn’t incredibly pretty” but pleased overall in avenging an earlier 25 point loss at Guelph. 5’11” Taylor Boers had 13 to lead Guelph but shot only 2 for 9 from the floor for the Gryphs who shot 5-20 from downtown and 36% overall. Star 6’5″ forward Adam Haroon had only 6 points in 17 minutes and left the game with an injury in the second half for Guelph, which also played without injured starter 6’2″ Jonathan Wallace and key reserves 6’1″ Jordan Sobot and 6’7″ Sean Carey. Seahawks now face host UQAM Citadins tomorrow afternoon while Guelph gets UNBC.
Saint Mary’s (11-4) 89, Queen’s (7-7) 86 in OVERTIME… 5’9″ Marquis Clayton had 8 of his 16 points in the extra frame and 6’6″ freshman Tristan Hyde, getting ample playing time in the absence of Huskies two starting bigs, gave the Huskies the lead for good with about 2 minutes gone in the OT to lift SMU to the tight win. Gaels had stormed back from a late 13 point deficit to force the extra session, primarily on the fine work of 6’3″ Sukhpreet Singh who finished with a game-high 30 points. However, Huskies aided the comeback, going 1-4 from the line in the final minute and committing 2 fouls about 70 feet from their basket while in bonus. Queen’s tied the game with just 1 second remaining in regulation on a slick pick-and-roll out of time out that Russell Winters finished off a nice feed from Sammy Ayisi. But Huskies took over in OT as 6’6″ Theon Reefer (game high 26 points) continued his fine offensive play; Reefer was a tough check all night for the Gaels, who struggle protecting the rim. SMU, playing without 6’8″ Osman Barrie and 6’7″ Ash Lual, got a combined 22 points and 11 rebounds on 10-16 collective shooting from the unheralded Hyde and fellow reserve 6’6″ Brent Martindale. Both Hyde and Martindale eventually fouled out. Queen’s star forward 6’6″ Tanner Graham was held scoreless for the first half and had only 4 points until he came alive down the stretch, including a large three that got the game back to within 5 late and gave Gaels some momentum. Huskies will face cross-town rival Dalhousie which dominated Mount Royal Cougars 85-67 as 6’3″ Jarred Reid and 6’3″ Kashrell Lawrence each had 18 in the win.
Manitoba (8-9) 60, Winnipeg (12-5) 55... 6’4″ Keith Omoerah set a Wesmen Classic record with 25 rebounds including numerous tough boards down the stretch and also did a stellar job checking Wesmen star wing 6’4″ Denzel Lynch-Blair and 6’2″ Ilarion Bonhomme knocked down consecutive 3’s late in the fourth to lead Manitoba to their second consecutive Wesmen Classic championship final with their third win in three tries this season over arch-cross-town rival Wesmen in the first semi-final of the tournament. Bonhomme’s second late three, from the right wing on a feed from Omoerah, gave Bisons a 53-50 lead they would never relinquish and then later Omoerah followed up a miss by 6’3″ Justus Alleyn with a thunderous one-handed follow dunk to push the lead back to 3 with just under 2 minutes to play. Winnipeg had at least 3 opportunities to tie it including Jamar Farlay‘s contested (by Omoerah) look at a three from the left wing with just 2 seconds remaining but he could not hit and Bisons survived. Earlier, Lynch-Blair missed two close-in shots and A.J. Basi was fouled on the ensuing rebound but missed a pair of free throws with 15 seconds remaining. However, Alleyne retrieved the second miss and Basi then made no mistake on the next 2 after getting fouled and Manitoba defended Farley’s final possession look well. 6’2″ freshman Narcisse Ambanza led Winnipeg with 14 points however Wesmen shot just 26% from the floor in an offensively-challenged game between two teams who are very familiar with each other. Omoerah had 17 points to lead Manitoba while Basi added 14 but it was Omoerah’s historic 25-rebound effort, obliterating the previous tournament record by 5 rebounds, that was the difference as the fifth-year forward continues his quest for back-to-back Classic tournament MVP’s. Bisons take on the winner of UVic/Alberta set to go shortly.
St. FX (9-8) 84, Acadia (5-9) 69… X-Men took charge with an 18-5 run early in the second quarter, holding Acadia to just 5 points in the first 6 minutes of the quarter and 2-10 from three point land overall in the second and went on to route the Axemen, their third win in three tries overall against Acadia this season. 6’5″ Daniel Passley had 13 of his 15 points in the first half, helping X finish the first half on a 7-0 run with 5 points and later X began the third quarter on a 13-2 run, holding the cold shooting Axemen to just 2 points in the first six minutes of the second half to lead by 26. Acadia’s star big man 6’9″ Erik Nissen started the game just 1 for 7 – finishing 1 for 10 and had just 4 points and 2 rebounds, all before halftime. Meanwhile, X shot an efficient 4 for 8 from downtown in the first half, getting out in transition and exploiting a porous Axemen “d”. X was able to use all 12 players and keep their starters minutes down in preparation for their meeting with #3 uOttawa Gee-Gees tomorrow night.