THUNDER BAY, ON – The Lakehead University men’s basketball team escaped with a 78-72 win over the visiting Ottawa Gee Gees on Friday evening. Although on a good pace through 3/4 of the game, the Pack’s performance took an uncomfortable turn with about 6 minutes remaining in the game. Following a rare 4-point play by Joe Jones and a Greg Carter three pointer to put Lakehead up 13, some of the the Lakehead, perhaps “over” faithful made their way for the exit. Ottawa paid no heed to the presumptuous fans and made a 7-0 run of their own, in a 60 second offensive outburst that silenced the crowd who had their jackets zipped and children mittened.
Lakehead managed to stop the bleeding by getting a lay-up from Ryan Thompson, courtesy of fellow big man Yoosrie Salhia who found him under the hoop with a quick overhead pass. They ran clock and took care of the ball from there, but it all made for a less than convincing win over the Gee Gees who seemed poised to avenge their 2010-11 FInal Four loss to the Thunderwolves.
Lakehead got double digit scoring from five players; Salhia -14, Venzal Russell-16, Greg Carter- 14, Ben Johnson-11 and Joe Jones 11. Salhia fed his stat line with 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
Ottawa’s leading scorer was Johnny Berhane-Meskel with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. OUA All-Star Warren Ward scored 16 (6-18 shooting) with 6 boards, 6 assists and 4 steals.
The difference on the game came from the three-point line, where Lakehead shot 50% (8-16) to Ottawa’s 36% (5-14). From the field overall, the Gee Gees held a 2% advantage, 44% (27-62) to 42% (29-69). LU won the battle on the glass, 37-24 (LU had 17 O boards).
Looking to tomorrow’s match-up against the CIS #1 Carleton Ravens, coach Scott Morrison knows his team must correct the errors they committed tonight, saying, “With 20+ turnovers and some lapses on defense to start the second half it was not our best effort. However I was proud of the output our guys gave tonight – many of which were playing while battling strep throat and other flu like symptoms.” Offering kudos to coach Deroin and the Ottawa team, Morrison adds, “Ottawa really gave us trouble with their balanced athleticism and sound game plan.”
As for facing the Ravens, Morrison’s outlook is simple, “Tomorrow against the CIS Champs we can not expect to stay in the game without executing our plan and playing 100% as a team for 40 minutes.”
Game time is 8 pm eastern, following the women’s game.