A game-winning three pointer by Duane Notice gave the Vancouver Bandits (7-12) a 90-89 upset victory over the Ottawa BlackJacks (12-8) on Thursday night at TD Place.
Vancouver scored 58 points in the paint tonight—compared to 28 paint points by Ottawa—but it was the three point ball that clinched the stunning victory.
“Duane hit a huge shot,” Nick Ward said after the game. “I can’t forget about my brother Duane Notice… It was a huge win.”
In a game that featured over 20 lead changes, the Bandits found themselves trailing by four points late in target score time. The BlackJacks were one point away from snapping a two-game losing streak, however, after Doug Herring Jr. cut the lead to two, the New York product got to the free throw line on Vancouver’s next offensive possession.
With the score at 89-87 and a chance to complete a three-point play, Herring Jr. missed the free throw but collected his own rebound and found Notice at the top of the three point line. Notice then knocked down the shot to stun the BlackJacks.
“Honestly, I was prepared for it,” Notice said. “It sounds crazy, but we do a drill in practice where we work on getting offensive rebounds from free throws. In that situation, coach [Kyle Julius] mentioned it and I was just being ready.”
Deng Adel led the charge offensively for Ottawa on the night. Adel scored a season-high 28 points (eight of which came in target score time) on 50 per cent shooting from the field and hauled in seven rebounds.
“[I was] just being aggressive, making the right reads, and I’m just trying to make the right play at all times,” Adel said. “It wasn’t enough, but we just gotta stay together and stay aggressive.”
Matt Coleman III chipped in with 17 points and three threes off the bench, and Thomas Scrubb had 18 points and four long balls.
While the BlackJacks welcomed Zena Edosomwan back to the lineup after a one-month absence tonight, Ottawa was without forward Jackson Rowe, who was averaging 15.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in 18 games this season. Edosomwan finished with five points and grabbed nine rebounds in his return to the BlackJacks starting lineup.
“It wasn’t a great game by us, but we competed, we fought. There were a lot of bodies flying around, they’re a big physical team,” Ottawa head coach James Derouin said. “I thought out guys fought right until the end.”
In the first quarter, Ottawa used a 13-0 run to take a 10-point lead after one. Adel scored eight points in that run, and collected 10 points in the first quarter.
Jahenns Manigat ended the run with a free throw after a James Jean-Marie technical foul. Abbotsford, B.C. native Marek Klassen, who finished with eight points and a pair of triples in his second game of the season with Vancouver, then made it a four-point possession with a three pointer after the inbound.
The Bandits flipped the tables with a 13-0 run of their own in the second quarter to take a 31-30 lead on a Nick Ward reverse layup under the basket.
Ward finished with a team-high 25 points. His frontcourt mate Giorgi Benzhanishvili secured a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, as Vancouver’s big men combined to give Ottawa fits all night.
Vancouver, who is leading the league in rebounds per game, had a 44-40 edge on the glass and hauled in 14 offensive boards as a team.
“I love this group, I’ve said they practice like they’re in first place all year, they’re great fighters,” Vancouver head coach Kyle Julius said. “That was a good effort by us tonight for sure.”
With the seconds ticking down in the half, a driving Scrubb found Jakeenan Gant in the corner for a three pointer that gave Ottawa a 46-45 lead at the break.
The BlackJacks started the third with two quick threes, but both teams traded blows in the frame. Vancouver used a 7-2 run—capped off with an Alex Campbell three pointer—to snag a five-point lead heading into the fourth.
Vancouver carried that momentum into target score time, but Ottawa stayed within striking distance to level the game at 85 (with a target score of 90 points). Scrubb managed to give Ottawa the lead with a layup in transition, and Adel brought them to within a point of victory, but the Bandits squeaked out the win with five straight points on their final possession of the night.
With the victory, Vancouver earned their third road victory of the year and got some momentum heading into Championship Weekend at the Langley Events Centre next month. The Bandits will close out the regular season on Sunday in Scarborough.
Ottawa, meanwhile, will need Niagara to lose both of their final two games of the regular season to earn top spot in the eastern conference—and an automatic bye to Championship Weekend.
“It’s a big fall from winning eight in a row to losing three in a row here,” Derouin said. “The way we lost, obviously, is a tough pill to swallow for anybody.”
Niagara is slated to face the Montréal Alliance and Brampton Honey Badgers to wrap up their regular season.