With all five of their starters scoring in double figures, the Ottawa BlackJacks (2-1) knocked off the previously undefeated Montreal Alliance (2-1) 89-75 in a matchup of the top two teams in the CEBL’s eastern conference on Thursday night at TD Place Arena.
Ottawa big man Zena Edosomwan helped lead the way for the BlackJacks with a double-double, recording 14 points and 12 rebounds, including 5 offensive boards.
“Z is our captain and he’s an incredible guy off the court and that’s why we wanted him back,” BlackJacks head coach James Derouin said after the game.
“His energy and relentlessness on the court is how he shows his leadership.”
Edosomwan secured the win with a backdoor cut and slam in Target Score Time to get Ottawa to the magic score of 89. Jackson Rowe, who finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds himself, fed Edosomwan the ball from just outside the paint on the game-winning play.
With the win, Ottawa avenged a 97-76 loss to Montreal on Sunday May 28.
Derouin said the focus tonight was on stopping Blake Francis and Ahmed Hill, who combined for 46 points in their previous game.
“They’re two guys that have had some success in the league, those two guys you really got to send all your resources and defence to them. They’re two of the best shot-makers and scorers in the league,” Derouin said. “I thought we made them look a little harder for their looks and maybe they got a little tired at the end.”
Francis and Hill, however, still led the way offensively for the Alliance tonight, scoring 18 and 20 points respectively. Elijah Ifejeh also chipped in with six points, and seven rebounds.
Tonight’s game was hotly contested from the jump, with both teams shooting effectively from three point range.
Montreal shot 47 per cent from the field in the first, while Ottawa shot five of 12 from three in the opening quarter.
Kadre Gray, specifically, two days after hitting a game-winning jumper against Scarborough in the target score frame, had 11 of his 20 points on the night in the first quarter.
There were 11 lead changes and 8 ties in the first half, and Ottawa entered the break with a slim five point lead.
After halftime, Ottawa cooled off from three point land.
Following five threes in the first quarter, the BlackJacks made six in the remainder of the game and asserted themselves inside the arch—racking up a total of 42 points in the paint.
Ottawa built up an 11 point lead after three, and led by nine when the game shifted to Target Score Time. Edosomwan collected four points in target score, capped off with the game-winning dunk to secure the win for Ottawa.
Montreal, meanwhile, relied heavily on their starters, as four of their five starters played over 30 minutes on the night.
“I think we just ran out of gas a little bit,” Francis said. “It was a physical game, all game, but we’ll learn from this.”
However, the Alliance were still able to shoot 40 per cent from the field and over 30 per cent from three. They also shot 51 per cent inside the arch.
“It’s a process,” said Montreal head coach Derrick Alston. “We have a very young bench… It’s still early, so we’re just making sure everyone knows what’s going on when they get their chance to get in the game.”
In total, 9 of the game’s 10 starrers reached double figures, with three players—Hill, Rowe, and Gray—scoring 20 points.
Montreal will look to rebound in a home matchup with the Brampton Honey Badgers on Sunday. The BlackJacks, meanwhile, will have one week off before they travel to Calgary on June 9.
Ottawa and Montréal will square off for the third and final time in the regular season back at TD Place Arena on June 22.