No. 4 Badgers beat No. 3 Gee-Gees 69-67 to win OUA bronze

(Photo: Valerie Wutti)
(Photo: Valerie Wutti)

OTTAWA, Ont. - After losing to the nation-best Carleton Ravens in their semifinal game, the Brock Badgers bounced back on Saturday night to defeat the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees 69-67 in the Wilson Cup bronze medal game. Cassidy Ryan of the Badgers had a tremendous 19 point performance to lead his team to the OUA bronze.

"That was the plan," said Badgers head coach Charles Kissi. "Everyone expected us to go to Dani (Elgadi), and instead we went to him. I told him he was going to play a ton of minutes, and I think he did a fantastic job. He was unbelievable tonight."

Gee-Gees forward Brody Maracle opened up the game with a jumper, but the Badgers' Cassidy Ryan immediately answered on the other end with a pullup of his own. Ryan proceeded to score 11 points in the opening quarter to give the Badgers the early lead, but Brandon Robinson of the Gee-Gees had back-to-back three-point possessions around the halfway mark of the quarter to keep his team from digging themselves into a hole. Three free throws by Ryan gave the Badgers a five-point lead, but Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles threw down an alley-oop dunk off a fast break pass by Mackenzie Morrison in the final seconds of the quarter to cut the gap. The Gee-Gees committed a whopping eight turnovers in the first quarter, but they held the Badgers to just 2 boards, and fortunately found themselves down by just three going into the second.

Up 21-18 to start the second, the Badgers went on an 8-0 run after Calvin Epistola opened up the quarter with a Gee-Gees bucket, capped off by a Tyler Brown three-pointer. The Gee-Gees were not going down easy, however, and 7 straight points by Matt Plunkett had them within 6 with under 2 minutes left in the first half. Caleb Agada hit a couple free throws then a jumper to put the Gee-Gees within 2, but his foul on Cassidy Ryan with just 3 seconds remaining - and the ensuing free throws - re-widened the gap to 38-34 as the halftime buzzer sounded.

Cassidy Ryan led all scorers in the first half with 15 points, while his teammate Johneil Simpson hit three triples in the half en route to his 9.

"We knew it might be our last game of the year," said Ryan. " I just wanted to be aggressive all game."

Plunkett and Agada scored 7 each for the Gee-Gees, but their team committed 11 turnovers in the half compared to just 3 for the Badgers, and their inability to take care of the ball had them down at the break.

The third quarter began with a scoring drought for both sides, with Brandon Robinson finally scoring the first points of the second half two and a half minutes in. Cassidy Ryan answered for the Badgers with a layup of his own on the other end, but back-to-back baskets by Caleb Agada allowed the Gee-Gees to finally tie it up at 40 with 6:45 left in the third.

With the game tied, Mo Ismail and Tyler Brown of the Badgers stepped up, combining for 10 points of a 14-4 Brock run as the third winded down.

"(Brown) was a stud today" said Kissi. "He made some mistakes, but how do you get better if you don't make mistakes?"

A jumper by Mackenzie Morrison cut the Badgers lead to 56-48 at the end of three, but the Gee-Gees were in an unenviable position with just 10 minutes left in the game.

Adam Presutti of the Gee-Gees opened up the final quarter with a triple, but the Badgers began to take control of the game. Brock had a couple successful possessions in a row, and a triple by Ryan Bennett gave them a double-digit lead with 5 minutes remaining. Robinson stopped the Badgers run with a three of his own, however, and the Gee-Gees began their final push of the game.

"There was a lot happening, a lot of distractions and things we couldn't control," said head coach Kissi. "We just had to stay composed, and our guys did a good job of playing through all of it."

Agada hit a few free throws, then drilled a stepback three-pointer off an offensive rebound with 2:18 remaining to cut the lead to just a single point. Michael Asemoto pushed the lead back up to five with a couple successful possessions, but the Gee-Gees were still very much in the game.

"I was just telling my team to stick to the script, do what coach talked about all year," said Ryan. "If we stick to the plan, we win the game - as simple as that."

The two teams traded trips to the charity stripe, but Badgers guard Tyler Brown missed one of his two, and with Robinson making both for the Gee-Gees, Ottawa was down two with 33 seconds remaining.
Agada drew the very controversial whistle on his drive with 20 seconds on the clock, but missed his first, unable to tie up the game. Elgadi was fouled on the other end, but missed one of his free throws as well, and the Gee-Gees had the ball, down two, on the final possession of the game.

Agada tried to create a good look using his dribble, but was forced to pass out of a double team. Brandon Robinson took the ball into the lane and used a spin move to get off a shot, but it was a wild one and much too short of the rim. The final buzzer sounded and the Badgers defeated the Gee-Gees, 69-67, to win the OUA bronze medal.

Simpson and Brown joined Ryan in double digit scoring for the Badgers, with 11 and 13, respectively. Brown also led his team with 4 assists, gaining some great experience in the final game of his second season in the OUA. Elgadi scored just 3 points for his team, but he walked away with the win regardless.

"It's a sign of how much we're getting better as a program," said Kissi. "(Elgadi) doesn't need to consume the shots, we have other guys who can take them too. Now they can't just load up on Elgadi anymore, and we proved that today."

Agada finished with 22 points and 3 rebounds in the tough loss, his final game as a member of the Gee-Gees. Robinson was the only other Gee-Gee in double figures, scoring 14 in the game. The Gee-Gees ended the game shooting just 15-for-25 (60%) at the charity stripe, a major difference maker in such a close game.

"I've known Caleb (Agada) for a long time, since I was young," said Ryan. "I knew he was going to come out hard, his final game before graduating, so we just had to play him physical."