Saturday’s action in U-Sports men’s basketball

After this afternoon’s Laurentian victory at Windsor, the interlock now stands at OUA East 47, OUA West 21 going into tonight’s final 4 OUA games and Canada West games of calendar 2017 (mini-previews below).

8 PM ET Carleton (15-0, 9-0) at Brock (12-1, 9-1)… Some of the luster and build-up of this game was removed last night after uOttawa Gee-Gees spoiled Brock’s undefeated season with a 9 point win during which the visitors dominated down the stretch with strong guard play.  Ravens deeper stable of guards are likely to test Brock again tonight in a game that will be played at the St. Catharines Meridian Center in what is expected to be a crowd in excess of 3,000 fans in an electric atmosphere.

8 PM ET Ottawa (14-3, 7-2) at McMaster (4-12, 1-8)… Gee-Gees hope there will be no let down after last night’s important win at Brock against a Marauders side that is reeling, having lost 8 in a row after an opening night home win over Guelph.  Ottawa has won 5 of their past six after their loss at Carleton about 3 weeks ago as 5’11” Sean Stoqua continues to provide the expected high-end guard play and gets stronger virtually with every game.

8 PM ET Nipissing (6-7, 4-4) at Western (8-6, 5-5)… Both teams suffered tough end-of-game losses on Friday with Lakers losing on a buzzer beater at Windsor and Mustangs having several chances to tie or win to no avail at home against Laurentian.  Lakers won their first ever OUA over Western at home last season and look for their first-ever OUA win at Alumni Hall tonight.

8 PM ET Lakehead (2-13, 0-9) at Ryerson (8-4, 7-2)… Thunderwolves have lost 13 in a row and are likely to be in-tough against the improved Rams who showed the league how explosive they can be in their second half come-back on Wednesday night at U of T.  6’5″ Ammanuel Diressa appears all the way back from his early season injury that sidelined him for a long stretch and, almost as importantly, impact 6’8″ center Adam Voll is back close to top form.  Rams guards completely dominated defensively down the stretch in Wednesday’s win.

#4 Calgary (13-2, 8-1) at Saskatchewan (3-11, 2-7)… Huskies are reeling and at this point are in danger of missing the Canada West playoffs, although their schedule in calendar 2018 is less arduous.  Dinos remain a Top 5 team in Canada.

Regina (11-6, 7-2) at #5 UBC (14-2, 9-2)…  Cougars were still in last night’s game until midway through the fourth quarter and look to stage what would be an upset with a split tonight.

Victoria (10-6, 5-4) at #2 Alberta (13-0, 9-0)… Golden Bears rarely shoot the ball poorly two nights in a row and with a victory tonight should be regarded as a unanimous pick for #2 in the country as Alberta puts their undefeated season on the line again against the defensive-oriented Vikes.

Fraser Valley (4-9, 4-7) at Lethbridge (13-4, 9-2)… Pronghorns were in a battle the entire evening last night against the Cascades and hope to remain within striking distance of first place with another victory tonight

Brandon (6-7, 5-4) at Trinity Western (1-10, 0-9)… Quietly Bobcats have established themselves as a legitimate contender not only for a playoff spot but possibly a first round home date in the playoffs.  Spartans remain winless in league play.

UNBC (5-9, 4-7) at Thompson Rivers (5-8, 4-7)… A possible preview of two teams on the bubble for a playoff spot in Canada West with tonight’s result likely to be influential.

Manitoba (10-5, 7-4) at UBC-Okanagan (2-12, 2-7)… Bisons won very easily last night and remain a solid playoff team in Canada West.

MacEwan (2-12, 1-8) at Winnipeg (6-11, 3-8)… Wesmen finish their first half at home, looking to cap off a sweep against the Griffins in what was a very difficult first-half schedule with six of their 12 games against Top 10 teams.


Gray, Aromolaran lead Voyageur turnaround in dominant win

Laurentian (12-1, 8-1) 90, Windsor (4-7, 4-6) 63… 6’2″ Kadre Gray again flirted with a triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists while fellow back-court mate 6’3″ David Aromolaran added 17 points, showing off his mature offensive game as the Voyageurs held Windsor to just 41 points in the final 33 minutes of the game in a convincing road win at the St. Denis Center.  Gray was magnificent, especially in the second half when he had 15 points, orchestrating a wonderfully-flowing Voyageur offense that is fluid and very fun to watch.  Both teams play an up-tempo, sharing brand of basketball that are perfect examples, when utilized properly, for the beauty of FIBA rules which were universally ridiculed when instituted some years ago but have shown by the test of time to be tremendously-beneficial for spectators and especially the development of offensively talented players.  Windsor came out firing, primarily behind 6’7″ sophomore Anthony Zrvnar, who has very good Euro-esque offensive skills and 5’10” Mike Rocca, to lead 22-10 late in the first quarter.  However, Windsor missed their next 11 shots and watch the Vees fashion an 18-0, keeping Lancers scoreless for 12 minutes.  Still, Windsor had life after a 16-5 run to retake a 7 point lead midway through the third.  But Gray got going and 6’1″ Anthony Iacoe knocked down three third-quarter 3’s while steady 6’3″ wing J.D. West also got cooking from the perimeter and Laurentian established their largest lead to that point at 67-54.  Lancers scored just 7 points in the first 7 minutes of the final frame as Laurentian established leads as large as 24 midway through the quarter.  Both teams took care of the ball well – total of just 20 turnovers in the game – and the high-potential Lancers hope to get healthy for the second half, looking for the return of 6’7″ Luke Allin from a bad ankle injury and possibly 6’3″ Telloy Simon.  With a tremendous first half of the season, Shawn Swords and the Voyageurs have established themselves as a definite Top 10 or better program, featuring one of the best scoring guards in the country in the spectacular sophomore Gray.

U-Sports Friday recap: Bains, Rocca provide last second heroics, uOttawa wins at Brock

Ottawa (14-3, 7-2) 78, Brock (12-1, 9-1) 69… 5’11” Calvin Epistola had 6 of 16 points during a game-sealing 14-0 fourth-quarter run and fellow 5’11” guard Sean Stoqua had a team-high 21 points including a dagger three as the Gee-Gees rallied to knock the Badgers from the ranks of the undefeated with a character win in St. Catharines before a sell-out crowd.  Brock went scoreless – going 0 for 9 from distance and 0-11 with two turnovers overall – during the vital 6 minute stretch that decided the game in the fourth.  6’4″ Brandon Robinson’s three gave Ottawa the lead for good at 63-62 midway through the quarter as the Gee-Gees, playing without 6’7″ Brody Maracle, took advantage of a 1-21 effort from distance by Brock for the game.  6’7″ Dani Elgadi had 26 points and 11 rebounds for Brock while 6’6″ sophomore Daniel Cayer added 13 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.  Badgers host #1 Carleton tonight at the St. Catharines Meridian Center in what is expected to be a crowd in excess of 3,000 fans.

Queen’s (10-6, 7-3) 88, Guelph (2-13, 2-8) 86… 5’11” Jaz Bains hit a 15 foot jumper as time expired to lift the Gaels to another dramatic come-back victory in Guelph.  Queen’s trailed by 13 with 7 minutes remaining but rallied, culminated by a final possession stop and, without a timeout, Bains weaved through the Guelph “d”, pulling up on a dime at the right elbow and making no mistake as the buzzer sounded, sending his teammates into a frenzy.  One possession earlier, Bains had tied the game on a clutch running, transition banker from the left side in what was another all-star-esque performance by the St. Lawrence-Kingston OCAA transfer.  Gryphons had controlled much of the game, making 9 of their first 12 threes and taking numerous charges but could only muster 4 points in the final 7 minutes, making just 2 of their final 17 shots from the floor.  6’11” fifth-year senior Mike Shoveller was spectacular for Queen’s, scoring 19 of his 23 points in the second half, combining with 6’6″ Tanner Graham for 19 fourth-quarter points to lead the Gaels back.  Shoveller went 10-16 from the field, adding 12 rebounds while Graham again dominated inside with 25 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Diminutive 5’10” guard Taylor Boers was electric for Guelph making 4 of his first 5 threes and finishing with 6 threes overall to lead the Gryphs with 18 points but as importantly took several tough charges while 6’2″ Daniel Dooley broke down Gaels defenders for 14 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists, including a sweet dime to 6’6″ Banky Alade that ended with a strong, two-handed jam by the sophomore from Calgary.  Later Alade added another dunk off a Dooley steal and run-out.  This was another entertaining, dramatic affair that highlighted the high-quality of our game.

Windsor (4-6, 4-5) 82, Nipissing (6-7, 4-4) 80… 5’11” Mike Rocca hit the game-winning three with just 3 seconds remaining as the Lancers rallied to win at home despite giving up a 20 point first-half lead.  Lancers still led 69-57 with just 8 minutes remaining after a three by 6’7″ Anthony Zrvnar (11 points) but Lakers quickly rallied to author a 16-3 run highlighted by three 3’s including the go-ahead splash from 6’4″ Jaaden Lewis, who finished with a game-high 30 points on 12-18 shooting including 4-6 from three.  The lead then changed hands seven times in the final 4 minutes with numerous dramatics before one of Canada’s most underrated talents in Rocca (20 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) iced the game at the end.  Windsor shot 15-36 from distance and the teams combined for just 19 turnovers in another exciting, entertaining, well-played affair.  Windsor’s win was the only one on the night for OUA West teams as the interlock now stands at OUA East 46, OUA West 21 going into tonight’s final 5 games.

#1 Carleton (15-0, 9-0) 83, McMaster (4-12, 1-8) 40… Marauders were held to just 26% shooting including 4-27 from three as the Ravens dominated from start-to-finish.  7’0″ Cam Smythe had all of his 13 points before halftime while 5’11” Emman Owootoah had 14 on 4-6 from three.  Only 23 fouls were called all night and only 4 free throws taken combined.

Waterloo (5-11, 3-7) 85, Laurier (6-11, 3-7) 74…  6’1″ sophomore guard Simon Petrov continues to grow into what eventually should be an all-conference possibly All-Canadian like career, last night scoring 30 points in a hostile, road environment as the Warriors won a huge game across town that should eventually have playoff implications.  Waterloo was in control for much of the night, shooting a tidy 10-22 from distance including a solid 3-4 effort off the bench from 6’1″ freshman Justin Malnerich.  Fellow 6’1″ freshman Ali Sow continues to show he is one of Canada’s finest first-year players with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists off the bench for Laurier.  6’6″ Nedim Hodzic played just 11 minutes for Waterloo, scoring just 2 points.

Toronto (10-7, 6-4) 85, Lakehead (2-13, 0-9) 69, … Blues pulled away in the fourth quarter behind 18 points from 6’3″ Sage Usher and a strong fourth-quarter performance from 6’5″ Chase Ruttenberg off bench (16 points/ two 3’s) as Varsity finishes their first half on a strong note, sending the reeling Thunderwolves to their 13th consecutive loss including 9 in a row in league play.

#4 Calgary (13-2, 8-1) 92, Saskatchewan (3-11, 2-7) 77… Huskies did grab an early lead but Dinos quickly woke-up to spank their rivals in Saskatoon.  6’6″ Mambi Diawara had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in the victory as Calgary shot 12-24 from three as a team and 57% overall from the floor.

#5 UBC (14-2, 9-2) 96, Regina (11-6, 7-2) 73 …  6’9″ Conor Morgan had 36 points and 10 rebounds as the T-Birds hammered the upstart Cougars in Vancouver.  Regina took their last lead at 20-19, getting it as close as 5 early in the third on back-to-back threes by 6’1″ Ben Hillis and 6’4″ Brian Ofori but 6’3″ Patrick Simon and 6’2″ Phil Jalalpoor had back-to-back threes of their own early in the fourth to push the lead to double digits and decide it.

#2 Alberta (13-0, 9-0) 89, Victoria (10-6, 5-4) 63 … Golden Bears dominated despite shooting an uncharacteristic 6-28 from downtown in an easy home win over the Vikes.  6’7″ Brody Clarke led the way with 20 points while 6’7″ Mamadou Gueye had a 16 point, 11 rebound double-double for the undefeated Bears.  Alberta held Vikes to just 4-20 from three and 33% overall in another solid defensive effort.  6’3″ Mason Loewen had 20 to lead UVic.

Lethbridge (13-4, 9-2) 98, Fraser Valley (4-9, 4-7) 87… 6’6″ Zac Overwater had 30 points as the Horns broke a two-game losing streak, maintaining their position near the top of the Canada West standings.

Brandon (6-7, 5-4) 101, Trinity Western (1-10, 0-9) 93… Bobcats continue to impress with another road victory led by 6’1″ Tyvon Cooper’s 26 points.

Thompson Rivers (5-8, 4-7) 86, UNBC (5-9, 4-7) 80… Wolf Pack overcame 29 points from 6’3″ Ryerson transfer Jovan Leamy in what was a 15 point game with just over 3 minutes to play.

Manitoba (10-5, 7-4) 80, UBC-Okanagan (2-12, 2-7) 51… Bisons led by 20 at the half and spread the minutes around in an easy win over the Heat.

MacEwan (2-12, 1-8) at Winnipeg (6-11, 3-8)… 6’4″ Denzel Lynch-Blair had 26 while fellow GTA native 6’3″ Narcisse Ambanza added 22 as the Wesmen won comfortably at home.

Voyageurs hang on to win at Western

Laurentian (11-1, 7-1) 80, Western (8-6, 5-5) 74… In a game that was nip-and-tuck virtually the entire way, Voyageurs made just enough plays down the stretch – aided by three consecutive Mustangs misses within two feet of the rim in the waning moments – to win on the road before a vocal, sold-out crowd at Alumni Hall.  6’2″ Kadre Gray led all scorers with 24 points and gave Laurentian the lead for good with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining and later fed 6’5″ Nelson Yengue for a tough transition ally-oop to rebuild a three-point lead with just over a minute to play.  Western had at least three chances to tie but 6’3″ Jedson Tavernier, 6’0″ Omar Shiddo and 6’1″ Eriq Jenkins all missed tough shots inside in the final two minutes.  Yengue had 7 of his 13 points in the final frame including a pair of clutch free throws while 6’1″ Anthony Iacoe added 16 for Laurentian, knocking down three 3’s including a clutch dagger midway through the fourth that got the lead to five briefly.  But the rapidly-improving Mustangs hung around on play of 6’1″ Henry Tan, who had back-to-back threes and 8 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter – Tan also had a key mid-court steal in the final moments that gave Mustangs a chance – and Jenkins, who had 8 of his 14 points after halftime.  Shiddo, who was on fire with 15 first-half points, had a chance to tie the game at 75 on the free throw line but missed his second with just over 2 minutes to play and, ironically, Western was held scoreless from that point forward, setting up Yengue’s ally-oop and a pair of clutch free throws from 6’2″ David Aromolaran (17 points) that iced it.  Both teams were very efficient from three, combining to shoot 16-39 however Vees relied on getting to the rim in the second half, going just 2-7 from distance after halftime.  Laurentian now travels to Windsor for a 4 PM start tomorrow and could arrive in time to catch the Lancers game this evening against Nipissing.  The Lakers will venture east on the 401 for a game tomorrow night at Western as all four teams complete their first half.  With the victory by Laurentian, the OUA East now holds a commanding 42-20 advantage over the OUA West with just 10 interlocking games remaining in this season’s series.

Preview of Friday’s action in U-Sports men’s basketball

Key games tonight in the OUA include Ottawa at #3 Brock and the Battle of Waterloo between the Warriors and Golden Hawks.

In Canada West, 7-1 Regina travels to UBC while Victoria is in Edmonton to face Alberta among the 8 games out west.

1 PM ET Laurentian (10-1, 6-1) at Western (8-5, 5-4)… Voyageurs start another pair of tough road games in OUA West schools against the improved Mustangs, playing just their 4th home game of the regular season after a pair of character road wins at York and at Queen’s this past weekend.  Western has proven to be a very underrated defensive team and no doubt will focus on stopping 6’2″ Kadre Gray and the explosive Laurentian offense.  Note the afternoon start time from Alumni Hall in London.

8 PM ET Laval (6-5, 3-1) at Bishop’s (1-11, 1-3)… Rouge et Or have played their best basketball of the season since an opening night loss at McGill with 6’7″ Joel Muamba breaking out as one of the top players in the “Q” recently.  Gaiters were hammered at home this past Saturday by McGill but retain a one-game lead over UQAM for the final spot at the RSEQ Final 4.

8 PM ET Ottawa (13-3, 6-2) at #3 Brock (12-0, 9-0)… This game has already been announced as a sell-out at the Bob Davis Gym in a rematch of this past March’s OUA Bronze Medal game that Badgers captured by 2, breaking a six-game overall losing streak to the Gee-Gees.  In the absence of 6’7″ Brody Maracle (concussion/out indefinitely), 6’5″ CBU transfer Kenny Jean-Louis has been given extended opportunity at the four-spot and his work combined with 6’9″ Jean-Pierre Charles will be key against 6’7″ Dani Elgadi and 6’7″ Cassidy Ryan in what is the most interesting and highest-end game of the night in the nation.  Both teams have a stable of young guards and wings and how each team’s depth performs in this big game may well tell the tale of who comes out on top.

#1 Carleton (14-0, 8-0) at McMaster (4-11, 1-7)… Ravens will likely look to attack inside with 6’10” Eddie Ekiyor against a relatively thin Marauder front line that features 6’8″ Matt Quiring.  McMaster has tried to play fast thus far this season to mixed results and 6’3″ Miles Seward, a streaky shooter, is usually the focal point offensively.  Ravens have won 22 consecutive games against McMaster with their last loss to Mac in the first round at the 2001 Final 8 in Halifax.

Waterloo (4-11, 2-7) at Laurier (6-10, 3-6)… First of two cross-town rivalry games between two teams with up-and-coming coaches and programs.  Both teams feature young rosters dotted with first and second year players.  Golden Hawks have an exciting array of guards and wings while Warriors tend to feature 6’6″ Nedim Hodzic inside against a Laurier front line that is striving for more game-to-game consistency.  Teams split a pair of games last season – each winning on the road in the opponent’s gym – which broke an 8 game Golden Hawks winning streak in the series.

Nipissing (6-6, 4-3) at Windsor (3-6, 3-5)… Two teams that want to play fast in a game that will likely be decided with guard play.  Lancers have never lost to the Lakers in the three games they have played since Nipissing joined the OUA in 2014-15.

Queen’s (6-3, 9-6) at Guelph (2-12, 2-7)… Gryphons have had a treacherous first-half schedule with 6 road games already and are 2-1 at home in league play.  Conversely, Gaels have played only 3 games away from home (2-1) and come off a convincing win Wednesday afternoon against York.  Queen’s has won five of the past six games between the two programs.

Lakehead (2-12, 0-8) at Toronto (9-7, 5-4)… Blues led for much of Wednesday’s home tilt with cross-town rivals Ryerson before succumbing late amid a flurry of Rams threes while Thunderwolves have lost 12 in a row overall after opening their pre-season with a pair of home wins over Winnipeg Wesmen.  Toronto defeated Lakehead by 21 in an OUA preliminary round playoff game at the Goldring Center this past February.

#4 Calgary (12-2, 7-1) at Saskatchewan (3-10, 2-6)… Bitter rivals meet in the first of two in Saskatoon.  Huskies prized 6’1″ U.S. import J.T. Robinson has yet to see the floor this season and impact 6’2″ wing Chan DeCiman has also been out, thinning out Saskatchewan’s rotation.  Dinos are deep and talented and poised at another run at the Canada West title.

Regina (11-5, 7-1) at #5 UBC (13-2, 8-2)… Upstart Cougars have won 7 consecutive games including a pair at home over then-#4 (in my humble opinion) Lethbridge Pronghorns in Regina last weekend.  Regina’s only loss was on opening night at Manitoba and Cougars rebounded the next night to start this current streak.  T-Birds represent Regina’s toughest road test to date.

Victoria (10-5, 5-3) at #2 Alberta (12-0, 8-0)… Golden Bears continue to shoot the ball as well as any team in Canada and meet the Vikes in the first of two in Edmonton.  These teams did not meet last season in CW regular season play after splitting a pair in 2015-16, also in Edmonton.  Vikes have won 4 in a row including a sweep of Saskatchewan last weekend.

Fraser Valley (4-8, 4-6) at Lethbridge (12-4, 8-2)… Horns suffered their first two CW losses in Regina last weekend.

Brandon (5-7, 4-4) at Trinity Western (1-9, 0-8)… Much-improved Bobcats need a road sweep to continue their quest for a playoff spot.

UNBC (5-8, 4-6) at Thompson Rivers (4-8, 3-7)… These two games are likely to have significant impact on the final seedings for the Canada West playoffs.

Manitoba (9-5, 6-4) at UBC-Okanagan (2-11, 2-6)… Bisons broke a three-game losing streak last Saturday with a home win over Brandon.  Heat have lost 4 in a row and have never defeated Manitoba (0-3) in their history of Canada West play.

MacEwan (2-11, 1-7) at Winnipeg (5-11, 2-8)… Disappointing Wesmen have had a very tough early season schedule with 6 of their 10 games against Top 10 teams Alberta, Calgary and UBC.  Griffins, losers of 6 in a row, find themselves in a rebuilding season and suffered a pair of tight set-backs at home last weekend against UNBC by 2 and 3 points.