The McMaster men’s basketball team heads to this weekend’s Ontario University Athletics Final-Four in the role of underdog. The Marauders open on Friday (Feb. 28) against the Ottawa Gee-Gees, with tip-off set for 8 p.m., at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.
McMaster enters the Final-Four as the top seed from the OUA West, while Ottawa is the second-seed from the OUA East. The Gee-Gees are the second-ranked team in Canada behind their neighbors from Carleton, while McMaster checked in at No. 5 in the final Canadian Interuniversity Sport Top-Ten of the season.
In a head-to-head match-up at McMaster back in November, Ottawa broke open a close game with a huge fourth quarter to beat the Marauders, 100-85. The Gee-Gees bring a talented crew to the court, with five players averaging over double-figures in scoring. Two of those, Johnny Berhanemeskel and Terry Thomas, finished the season averaging over 20 points per game.
The Marauders will counter with some balanced scoring of their own. Top scorers Joe Rocca (14.2-PPG), Taylor Black (13.9-PPG) and Aaron Redpath (10.5-PPG) have all hit for double digits, while Nathan McCarthy, Leon Alexander, and Adam Presutti are scoring in the nine-points per game range.
Both teams have solid depth and get contributions off the bench from several sources.
“Tempo will be so important in this game,” said Marauder coach Amos Connolly. “Ottawa is one of the highest scoring teams in Canada and hung 100 on us in November. We will have to play outstanding defense and keep that from happening again.”
The other semi-final has the top-ranked Carleton Ravens playing the seventh-ranked Windsor Lancers at 6 p.m.
McMaster Athletics is running a Fan Bus for Friday night’s game. Tickets are $25 which includes admission to Friday night’s game and a return bus trip Tickets are available at the Business Office in the lobby of the David Braley Athletic Centre until 2 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 27).
Friday’s two winners advance to Saturday’s Wilson Cup final, while the losers will play for the OUA bronze medal. Games on Saturday are again at 6 and 8 p.m.