OUA Wilson Cup bronze: Ottawa 90, Windsor 77, Gees firm up wild-card case: 'I don't think there's any doubt who should go'

TORONTO — With Caleb Agada taking over with a LeBron-like line to help Michael L'Africain  into the groove of a share-the-ball system, Ottawa completed their CIS Final 8 wild-card application by defeating the Windsor Lancers 90-77 in Saturday's OUA bronze-medal game.

Agada, the best two-way player in CIS, had 23 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and an 8-to-3 assist/turnover ratio, with 83.3 per cent eFG. The fourth-year wing also helped limit Windsor's fine fifth-year guard Alex Campbell to a muted 24 points (on 58.8% eFG), only eight of which came in the first 28 minutes. Overall, fewer than 24 hours after losing control of their destiny with that desultory defeat against No. 1-ranked Carleton, the No. 2-ranked Gee-Gees were locked in, albeit against a team they had already beaten by 30-plus points in November. The fancystats included a 58.2% eFG and 18-to-11 assist/turnover ratio. Ten Gee-Gees scored.

"Realistically, with this win, I don't think that leaves any doubt on who should go," said Gee-Gees coach James Derouin, whose team is 29-5. "The at-large was going to go the bronze [winner] from this tournament from the start. You had number one [Carleton] beat number two [Ottawa] in the semifinal, now one and three [Ryerson] are playing in the final. That was the way it should have panned out. The one, two and three have got to go. I'm confident that will be the case."

The gameflow was much like the Windsor-Ryerson semifinal. L'Africain, who made only 3-of-28 from the floor across the two games, stepped up with an assist in transition and some strong takes to get to the free-throw line during a 9-0 run that opened an 11-point mid-third quarter lead. Windsor had some pushback, but after frosh backup point guard Calvin Epistola canned a buzzer three off an Agada assist to end the third, Ottawa had a secure grip on the game.

Ottawa's stretch-four, Matt Plunkett (16 points on 66.7% eFG), had three triples during a first half-finishing 18-7 Gee-Gees surge. Plunkett had another three-ball to buckle Windsor down the stretch. Ottawa got a little from everyone, including Brody Maracle inside (12 points in 19) and L'Africain (11 points, six rebounds, 3/2 assist turnover, two steals). The urgency was back.

"Last night would change anybody," Plunkett said. "Our season was on the line. We knew if we lost we might not get this wild card – and we still might not, but we would put ourselves in the best possible situation if we won today. We went out with a 'win or go home' attitude

"That bitter taste [after losing to the Ravens] is still in my mouth today," Plunkett added. "I won't lose that until we win nationals."

Windsor, which interim coach Ryan Steer got to within a game of a Final 8 spot with a seven-man rotation and seven rookies on the roster, rated leaving the floor with heads held high. Rookie 6-foot-5 guard Isiah Osborne (20 points, 54.5% eFG) battled with a clearly injured left hand. Third-year southpaw guard Mike Rocca (17 points, eight rebounds, four assists, 51.9% eFG) was the Lancers' lifeline with four first-half triples. Rocca only scored three points after the break.

"He's just a wild player, and I mean that in the positive way, who's capable of getting hot and capable of getting cold," Derouin said of the 5-foot-10 Rocca. "He hit tough contested shots. We just continued to play good defence."

Campbell's all-Canadian-worthy postseason bears highlighting. The Brampton, Ont., native averaged 27.3 points and 9.3 rebounds. Holding him to fewer than 25 was a win.

"The game plan was for me to guard Alex Campbell and do what I am capable of," Agada lauded. "He still had 24. He's a great player."

If they get the at-large berth on Sunday, Ottawa will be in the Final 8 for the fourth consecutive season. McGill beating Laval for the RSEQ title would takes another Top 10 team out the wild-card consideration.

Thompson Rivers' Top-2 Canada West finish should create space for the wild card to draw into the 4 vs. 5 quarter-final.
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