Windsor shocks Ottawa (and the rest of the CIS), winning 85-80

This year was supposed to be Ottawa, Carleton and then everyone else. The University of Windsor Lancers have disrupted that narrative, beating the No. 1 Ottawa Gee-Gees 85-80. That win puts them in the Wilson Cup final but more importantly, puts them into the CIS Final 8.

Ottawa never got into their offensive rhythm but couldn't slow down the Lancers balanced attack either. As far as an game-plan execution goes, Windsor was perfect.

The entire game was back-and-forth, but the first quarter was won by Ottawa. Windsor switches every ball-screen and Ottawa tried to attack that with one-on-one drives. The results were mixed; the Gee-Gees picked up a few offensive fouls but in the final couple of minutes, Ottawa made their open shots. Even though Windsor stuck around, they did so by connecting on some heavily-contested looks. Ottawa was up 26-20 and it seemed like the Lancer boat was taking on water.

That momentum disappeared quickly, as the Gee-Gees fell back into step-backs and one-pass-one-shot trips. Ottawa loves to play quick and while I have no problem with their overall pace, their attempts tonight didn't feel natural. Windsor clawed back into it through dribble penetration and good inside passing. 

After the sleepy first half, you thought Ottawa would come out of the break with a more concentrated attack. It wasn't a surprise that the Lancers were switching all screens and the way they reacted to it was probably talked about in the locker room. Yet, it was hard to see any real changes. If you are a Raptor fan, think of the offensive style you hate; no movement, one screen, somewhat aimless dribbling, attack, jump shot. This is what the Gee-Gees did and exactly what Chris Oliver's Lancers wanted.

Windsor still needed to figure things out offensively, though. Rotimi Osuntola Jr. had been quiet in the first half, only scoring a couple of buckets (at most). Evan Matthews was relied on heavily, a strategy that paid dividends as he used his size advantage over Ottawa Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue to establish post position. In the second half, the Lancers shot an inexplicable 56% and they picked up a decent number of offensive boards. Alex Campbell, a college transfer, played a big role in that, hitting jumpers and finishing at the rim. His 20 points were a game-high.

In the fourth quarter, Ottawa couldn't slow the Lancers down. Windsor dropped 24 points to the Gee-Gees 18, with a 6-0 run around the three-minute mark giving them the winning space they needed. Ottawa forced the issue and took a fair number of contested looks.

The key to this game was Windsor and their defensive plan. Their screen and roll coverage took Ottawa out of their playing style, which is not unlike the story last week's game against McMaster. Ottawa takes 41% of their shots from three; tonight they took 35%, or 27 of their 74 field goal attempts. They didn't connect on a lot either, only making 8. The 8-27 mark is their second-lowest of the season. Their game against UofT was the only conference game they shot worse in. This isn't live/die by the three, Ottawa wasn't getting the three point looks they wanted. 

Rebounds were pretty close - Windsor 42, Ottawa 41. The Lancers hit 9 3s on 22 attempts. 

Johnny Berhanemeskel lead the Gee-Gees with 19 points on 8-16 shooting.

Thanks to Marshall Ferguson (@Marsh2Fergs) for sending me a box score. The OUA/CIS didn't have one online when I wrote this.

Here's his interview with Chris Oliver, post-game.


CIS Final 8 seeding will be ... interesting

We'll take a look at a prospective bracket after tonight's games, but it is fair to assume Ottawa will be the at-large team. 
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