Weekend split leaves Redeemer men in third place

Redeemer’s Benn Ibrahim slams in one of his 19 first-game points (Photo: Redeemer University College)

It was a mixture of ups and downs this past Nov. 5-6 weekend as Redeemer’s men’s basketball team opened its 2011-2012 campaign with home games, splitting two games by beating the Sault Cougars, 68-65, in overtime but losing to the Algoma Thunderbirds, 87-33.

Friday’s Ontario Colleges Athletic Association season opener saw the men’s team grab the victory in thrilling fashion against Sault College in a game that highlighted 11 lead changes and 12 ties throughout the contest. The Royals entered halftime with a narrow 31-30 lead sparked by Redeemer’s Benn Ibrahim (Windsor, ON) 13 points. In the second half, every time the Royals looked like they might start to pull away, Sault came storming back and matched them point for point.

The teams entered the fourth quarter with the same one-point lead for the Royals, 44-43. With the Royals leading by four points (58-54) in the final 30 seconds, the game looked to be over but a few costly mistakes gave Sault a 5-0 run and a one-point lead with just seconds to play. However, not willing to let it slip away, a late foul sent Royals Paul Hart to the line sinking 1 of 2 free throws and bringing the game into overtime. Redeemer took a late lead of 67-63 and was able to hold on for the 68-65 win to start the season with a victory in dramatic fashion.

Ibrahim had a team high 19 points for the Royals and added eight rebounds and two assists. Paul Hart also hit double figures with 16 points.

Odane Ferguson of Sault had a game high 23 points.

Saturday’s game against Algoma University saw a different Royals team show up as they fell behind early and entered halftime down 42-15. Redeemer shot just 18.5% from the field in the half compared to 46.2% the night before against Sault. Unfortunately the Royals shooting struggles continued in the second half putting up just 18 points for the 87-33 loss. First-year Ali Askarov (Hamilton) led the team with eight second half points. Mark Wortham had a game high 18 points for the Thunderbirds.

The men’s team currently sits in third place in the OCAA West with six other teams all tied with a win and a loss. The Royals hit the road on Friday, Nov. 11 for their first away games when they travel to Humber College to battle the Hawks.