Wesmen fall to Gee-Gees at national men’s hoops tourney
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The Winnipeg Wesmen returned to the U Sports national men’s basketball championship for the first time in 29 years Friday afternoon and it did not go well for the Canada West runners-up.
Fourth-year forward Guillaume Pepin scored 22 points on nine-for-11 shooting to lead the No. 2-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees to a 91-70 triumph over seventh-seeded Winnipeg in quarterfinal action at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
The game was delayed by more than an hour past the scheduled noon CST tip-off due to a pre-game fire alarm.
The seventh-ranked Wesmen, who trailed 42-25 at halftime and were chasing the game throughout, got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Mike Mikhailov.
“I think (Ottawa’s) a pretty good basketball team and they were well-prepared, obviously,” Wesmen head coach Mike Raimbault told wesmen.ca. “I think they’re probably one of the teams that’s playing the best coming into the tournament and they were certainly ready to go today.”
Malachi Alexander, with 13 points, Donald Stewart, with 12, and Paul Francisco, with 11, also reached double-figures for the Wesmen.
It was a forgettable outing for star Wesmen point guard Shawn Maranan, who had only two points on one-for-four shooting and while adding six assists.
“I think good things happened for us when we were able to get the ball inside,” said Raimbault. “I think we didn’t do a good enough job of getting those touches consistently. I think obviously they executed really well and had us chasing and in rotation a whole bunch, especially in the first half when we weren’t able to capture some of the long misses that we were able to force was definitely a factor.”
Kevin Otoo and Cole Newton had 15 points apiece for the Gee-Gees, who also got 12 points and six rebounds from Brock Newton.
The Wesmen struggled in the shooting department during the first half, missing their first six three-point attempt but they recovered in the second half to finish the game seven-for-22 (31.8 per cent) from behind the arc and 28-for-64 (43.8 per cent) overall.
The Gee-Gees held the upper hand, going 10-for-28 from three-point range and 35-for-59 overall. Ottawa also outscored Winnipeg 19-9 in points off turnovers.
It was the second meeting of the season between the teams. Ottawa beat Winnipeg 70-61 in the Wesmen Classic final on Dec. 30.
The Wesmen will play the UQAM Citadins in a consolation semifinal at 10 a.m. CST. Earlier Friday, the No. 6 Citadins dropped a 73-71 quarter-final decision to the Carleton Ravens.
Meanwhile, the No. 3 Ravens will face the Gee-Gees in championship semifinal action.