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Voyageurs end regular-season play on negative note

By: Randy Pascal – Playback

 | Feb 18, 2014 - 11:58 AM |
The Laurentian University men's basketball team dropped two games over the weekend to round out regular-season play. File photo.

The Laurentian University men's basketball team dropped two games over the weekend to round out regular-season play. File photo.

Men's basketball team poised for playoffs

A pair of 20-plus point losses on the road might not be the ideal pre-cursor to a home playoff game for any basketball team.

Given, however, the unlikelihood of seeing the Laurentian Voyageurs enjoy the confines of the Ben Avery Gym for post-season action just two weeks ago, coach Shawn Swords and company will happily accept the hand they were dealt.

The Voyageurs closed out the 2013-2014 regular season over the weekend, suffering the same fate as virtually every opponent making the trek to the nation's capital for a weekend double-header.

Laurentian was trounced 124-84 by the Ottawa Gee Gees as the No. 2 ranked team in the country torched the visitors for no less than 16 three-point baskets in scoring at least 25 points in each and every quarter.

The Ottawa scoring parade was led by Johnny Berhanemeskel with 24 points, though this was hardly a one-man show. Mike L'Africain (21), Terry Thomas (20), Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue (15), Matt Nelson (14) and Caleb Agada (10) all chipped in significantly, with all 11 Gee Gees that were dressed for the game hitting the scoresheet.

The Voyageurs might take some solace in the fact they matched the homeside in terms of players scoring in double digits, with Alex Ratte (14), David Aromolaran (13), Ryan Bennett (13), Gherick Uneau (12), Josh Budd (11) and Tychon Carter-Newman (11) all turning the trick for Laurentian.

Facing the powerful Carleton Ravens the next night, the blue and gold actually emerged from the first quarter holding a 24-23 lead, before the team that has claimed nine of the past 11 CIS championships bounced back, grabbing a 10-point advantage by the half.

Tyson Hinz paced the Ravens attack with a 26-point effort, while Ratte and Bennett showed the way in a losing cause for Laurentian, finishing with 24 and 16 points respectively.

The Voyageurs' record of 12-10 was good enough to secure a home playoff game for a third straight year thanks in large part to a pair of key home victories earlier this month as LU took down both the University of Toronto Blues (103-74), as well as surprising the Ryerson Rams (82-69).

This sets the stage for an OUA East Division quarter-final battle on Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. on the campus of Laurentian University as the Voyageurs welcome the fifth-place York Lions (11-11) to town.

The teams split their regular season series, with both taking advantage of their home-court crowds. Laurentian edged York 86-85, in Sudbury, back on Jan. 18, while the Lions earned a measure of revenge with a 96-86 triumph on Jan. 31 in Toronto.

The Voyageurs have won each of their past two playoff games at the Ben Avery Gym, but were eliminated by Carleton in both 2012 and 2013 in the divisional semifinals.

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