The St. Thomas University basketball teams came away with a pair of wins on Jan. 15 against the University of New Brunswick Saint John Seawolves at the Lady Beaverbrook Gym.
With just over a minute left in play, the Tommies led the University of New Brunswick Saint John Seawolves by just one point after being down by as many as 10 throughout the game. Tommies’ veteran Michael Otoo checked into the game and made an immediate impact. Geoffrey Lavoie grabbed an offensive rebound and fed the ball to Otoo who made a slick crossover and banked in a tough, fading layup, giving STU two points.
When the Tommies got the ball next, Lavoie fed Otoo the ball again, this time in the left corner. Otoo nailed one of his four three-pointers to extend the Tommies’ lead with 1:23 remaining. Otoo then forced an offensive foul, leading to a three-pointer from Almin Dervisevic to put the icing on the cake, giving the Tommies a seven-point advantage.
Ted Braden would strip the ball from the Seawolves right after, ending any chance UNBSJ had of coming back.
Tommies’ head coach John Hickey said Otoo’s energy played a role late in the game.
“[Otoo’s] a real good team guy, he’s a real good energy guy,” Hickey said after the Tommies’ 86-79 win.
“We talk all the time about having different guys on different nights. [Otoo] went in with a couple of minutes left and made a couple of big plays for us.”
Otoo finished the game with 14 points, shooting 4-6 from the three-point line.
The Tommies found themselves in an early hole, trailing by 10 points in the second quarter. It took a team effort and a lot of gritty plays for the Tommies to rally back, having a strong third quarter which saw them outscore their opponent 23-18.
“Saint John’s a good team,” Hickey said after the game.
“Their record doesn’t do them justice, they’ve got good players over there. So I was happy with the way our guys pulled through in the fourth quarter.”
The Seawolves’ currently sit in last place in the ACAA with a 1-7 record and have lost their last six games.
Second chance points were key in the Tommies win, scoring 21 points while grabbing 18 offensive rebounds.
Lavoie led the team in scoring with 20 points, while Dervisevic posted a double-double, with 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Tommies now sit in third in the ACAA with a 7-3 record.
Reigning ACAA Rookie of the Year Vanessa Soffee gave the Tommies the early momentum in a blowout 89-53 win over the Seawolves on Wednesday night. Soffee had the crowd on their feet after making consecutive layups to give the Tommies an early six point lead in the first quarter.
Tommies’ head coach Fred Connors was impressed with Soffee’s play.
“[Soffee] drives a ton [of energy] for us,” Connors said.
“As a 5’3 guard, she had six rebounds, six steals … You have to appreciate someone that can score six points and control the entire basketball game. But she’s been like that for us all year.”
Soffee also had 10 assists to add to her all-around game.
The second quarter would be all the Tommies needed for their sixth win of the season, outscoring the Seawolves 22-4. Despite only allowing four points, Connors said his team’s defence wasn’t “phenomenal.” It was just what they should be doing he said, adding he loved the hustle from his players.
Morgan McHatten’s solid play continued, having another big performance for her team after a breakout game the previous weekend where she scored 18 points. In her third start as a Tommie, McHatten recorded a team high 17 points, shooting 4-5 from the three-point line and grabbing four rebounds. McHatten, a third-year wing who transferred from Crandall University has averaged 7.9 points per game this season.
Connors said he’s excited to see McHatten step up recently.
“We’ve always known [McHatten’s] a good basketball player … It’s just a matter of just getting comfortable now,” he said.
“She’s come to a new program, she just wasn’t quite sure where she fit in … She’s come back from the break and has been fantastic.”
The Tommies now sit in third in the heavily competitive ACAA standings with a 7-3 record.