By Ben Waldman
After a humbling loss to Ryerson the night before, the Windsor Lancers took care of business against the Bishop’s Gaiters, winning 91-80 to advance to the consolation finals at Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Final 8.
The Lancers led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter before the Gaiters, fresh off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees, began to claw their way back.
Jona Bermillo scored nine points in the fourth quarter for Bishop’s, eventually tying the game at 76 with four minutes to go.
But it was too little too late for Bermillo and company, who hung around all afternoon while Windsor’s balanced attack chipped their way to victory.
Guard Mike Rocca, who played only 13 minutes in the Windsor loss to Ryerson on Friday night, was inserted into the starting line-up and his team immediately was rewarded.
Rocca scored 10 points, grabbed seven boards, and dished out four assists as part of a balanced attack that saw six other Windsor players reach double figures in scoring.
“Even though we aren’t competing for a national championship like we planned on, we have to find a way to create some energy and I just tried to bring that right off the hop,” Rocca said.
Bishop’s run at the tournament was ended, though they had an opportunity to win both of the games they played. The Gaiters entered the tournament with an unimpressive 10-15 record against CIS teams, but they proved themselves as a program on the rise after two inspired performances.
Gaiters forward Mike Andrews controlled the inside, finishing with 29 points on pristine 13-20 shooting (65 per cent). Andrews, a six-foot-eleven senior, averaged 23 points and 13 rebounds over the course of the tournament, but ends his career without a win at nationals.
No team from the RSEQ, Bishop’s’ conference, has won a quarterfinal at nationals since 2005, and because the Gaiters came so close to doing that against Ottawa on Friday, head coach Rod Gilpin said that his team was understandably disappointed.
“After last night, losing today doesn’t hurt,” Gilpin said. “Losing last night still hurts, and I’m sure it still does for the Windsor guys too.”
Windsor coach Chris Oliver was pleased with the victory, but echoed Gilpin, saying that the loss still stings a bit.
“Only three teams get to end with a win at this championship, and we want to be one of those teams,” Oliver said ahead of his team’s Saturday matchup with the Saskatchewan Huskies. “We want to get that win.”
Windsor and Saskatchewan tip off at the Mattamy Athletic Center at 2 p.m. on March 13.