Much of the pre-game discussions around Laurentian’s visit to uOttawa on Saturday night centered on the expected size and depth advantage inside the Gee-Gees were likely to have with 6’9″ Jean Pierre-Charles and 6’7″ Brody Maracle against the smaller Voyageurs front line led by veteran 6’5″ William Yengue. Key to the game for Ottawa appeared to center on their ability to control incomparable 6’2″ guard Kadre Gray.
Yengue and the Laurentian “d” turned all that analysis completely around as the crafty athletic post dominated inside, especially during the game-deciding fourth quarter run that broke a 54-54 tie, as Yengue had three straight buckets, going right after Maracle defensively after Pierre-Charles was saddled with four quick fouls. Yengue finished with a game-high 27 points on 10-14 shooting adding 7-8 from the stripe in a dominant performance as Head Coach Shawn Swords went directly at the match-up he favored at exactly the right time in the game and Yengue delivered with 23 of his 27 in the second half including 11 in the decisive fourth quarter.
While Gray did not match his scoring average, he did get in the lane enough for 8 assists and hit the game-clinching three as the shot clock wound down in the final minute, extinguishing any chance for a late uOttawa rally after Laurentian had built leads as large as 12. One of the main recipients of Gray’s dimes was 6’1″ lefty Anthony Iacoe who hit three big fourth-quarter shots including a pair of threes to stretch the lead. Gray was a much more willing passer on Saturday, rebounding from a sluggish first-half effort at Carleton on Friday night.
Last night’s game was another high-end thriller between two very well coached teams featuring several big time players including Ottawa’s 6’4″ Brandon Robinson who did his best to keep the Gee-Gees in the game, especially in the second half with a series of fine finishes and tough perimeter shots. Robinson made four threes and finished with 20 points while Pierre-Charles, who was whistled for three fouls within a three minute stretch of the third, added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Maracle added 12 on 5-6 shooting but just 4 rebounds and showed little resistance defending Yengue in the post.
In Toronto, Queen’s Gaels surrendered their second consecutive second half lead as 6’2″ Evan Shadkami had 15 of his 18 points after halftime in a 74-64 Varsity Blues victory. After 6’1″ Matt Elcock knocked down a three, Gaels led 44-31 midway through the third, 6’3″ Sage Usher started a 9-2 Toronto run with five consecutive points including an “and 1″ and later Shadkami made three threes in the final minute and a half of the quarter to get it down to two. Shadkami started the fourth with another three and later reserve 6’7″ forward Nick Morris knocked down an elbow jumper to give Varsity the lead for good with 8 1/2 minutes to play. Later, a corner three by 6’4” Nick Paradina and an “and 1″ by Shadkami swelled the lead to 11 and Usher clinched it with a three off crisp ball movement to lead by 14 with 2 minutes left. Toronto held Queen’s without a field goal for an almost 6 minute stretch of the fourth to move into a tie with Gaels for fifth-place.
At Carleton, 7’0” Cam Smythe had all 16 of his points before halftime as Ravens built an early 20 point lead and went on to hammer Nipissing 94-66. 6’5″ T.J. Lall led the way with 17 points and, in the absence of 6’9 3/4″ Eddie Ekiyor (upper body injury), two emerging, developing forwards 6’7″ Mitch Jackson and 6’8″ Will Kohler got extended minutes with each scoring 11 second-half points. Jackson continued a string of effective outings while Kohler, all the way back from a broken bone in his foot sustained earlier in the season, went 4-5 from the field including knocking down a pair of threes as the Ravens flashed their quality depth. Ravens and Gee-Gees travel to downtown Toronto next weekend to face Ryerson and Toronto as the exciting, well-balanced OUA East schedule continues.
OUA East Standings
Most teams have seven games remaining, one each against each of the other eight teams in the conference (Laurentian and Nipissing have a home-and-home in two weeks that will help bring clarity to Lakers playoff chances). Lakers have what are a pair of virtual must-win games at York and Queen’s next weekend.
Ryerson’s chances of finishing second and/or hosting a home playoff game should become clearer next weekend when Rams host Ottawa and Carleton at the MAC.
Friday: Ottawa at Ryerson; Carleton at Toronto; Nipissing at York; Laurentian at Queen’s
Saturday: Carleton at Ryerson; Ottawa at Toronto; Laurentian at York; Nipissing at Queen’s.