Epistola leads Gee-Gees to pull away victory


#5 Ottawa (7-1) 79, Laval (3-4) 59… 5’11” Calvin Epistola, shaking off a recent stretch of indifferent play while battling a painful foot injury, ignited the Gee-Gees with 18 points off the bench including a perfect 4-4 from downtown as Ottawa pulled away midway through the third with a 27-11 run to defeat turnover-plagued Rouge et Or.  Laval put together a 8-2 run early in the third quarter behind 6’7″ Joel Muamba and 6’5″ Alexandre Leclerc to get the game back to within two at 44-42 but Epistola knocked down a deep make from about 3 feet behind the arc and then got to the rim with a dandy take to give Ottawa a nice lead and 6’3″ freshman Alex Muise, who continues to impress with his decision-making and quiet ability to beat close-outs to get to the rim had all 5 of his points in consecutive fashion during the run and the lead ballooned back to double digits quickly.  Earlier Epistola had 13 first-half points including all three makes from downtown, combining with 6’5″ Gage Sabean to give Ottawa a lift in the second quarter, building leads as large as 11.  Sabean had four first half 3’s and a breakaway two-handed dunk off a steal that allowed the Gee-Gees to eventually take a 7 point lead into halftime.  Laval has a talented group of athletes, especially on the wing and forward spots however Rouge et Or turned it over 22 times, on many occasions trying to play fast with questionable decision making, which turned out to be their undoing in the final 15 minutes or so this evening.  Leclerc went off early in the third making a three (he went 4-11 from downtown) and finished with a game-high 20 points but turned it over 9 times and did not get to the free throw line (Rouge et Or were only 4-7 from the stripe).  Muamba, who has struggled with injuries in the early season, looks even stronger and leaner than his freshman season in ’16-’17 and he remains a load inside (20 points on 8-9 shooting).  Ottawa did a tremendous job of keeping the normally-active Laval forwards off the offensive glass with gang rebounding as 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.  Ottawa grabbed 16 “o” boards of their own, showing much more energy at both ends after yesterday afternoon’s lackluster effort at McGill.  Ottawa was 13-31 from three and turned it over only 7 times on the night as their newer and younger back-court continues to get comfortable.  6’7″ Brody Maracle had 15 points and 6 rebounds, including 11 in the second half, helping to push the lead to 22 at one point with some nifty inside finishes while 6’4″ Brandon Robinson continues to mature as a decision maker with some crafty looks (8 points, 6 assists).  Ottawa hosts Guelph and Algoma next weekend and it was discovered this evening that 6’7″ Connor Gilmore, an OUA All-Star last season at McMaster who announced in the spring his intention to transfer to uOttawa for next season, has left the program.  No official word on where Gilmore may end up.

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