The University of Toronto Varsity Blues men’s basketball team came into their game Saturday night sitting in first place in the Central Division, looking for a statement win against the Ottawa Gee-Gees, who were second in the East.
The Blues got off to a hot start, led by guard Iñaki Alvarez and forward Lennart Weber. They led 12–5 halfway through the opening quarter, but the Gee-Gees shaved that lead down to two by the end of the quarter. Both teams started the second quarter slow as the early hot shooting for the Blues began to cool down.
Gee-Gees took control in the second quarter when Cole Newton’s three pointer sparked an 8–0 run. As missed three pointers started to stack up for the Blues, their offense grinded to a halt and the team, looking for a spark, called timeout with two minutes left in the half. That spark came via a steal and big dunk from Lennart Weber, which brought the Blues’ fans back into the game. The Gee-Gees held the halftime lead 35–32, but only three points separated the teams.
The Gee-Gees came out of the gates hot in the second half, with Kevin Otoo leading the team to a 10-point lead halfway through the third. The Blues’ defense, which had been solid in the first half, showed cracks in the third quarter, allowing the Gee-Gees to get to the rim with ease. By the end of the third quarter, the Gee-Gees led by 12.
The Blues continued to struggle from the field in the fourth, especially from the three-point line, ending the game four out of 24 from long range. The Gee-Gees continued to build their lead, and when the Blues called timeout with four minutes remaining, they were down by 14, and the game was all but over. The final score saw the Gee-Gees win 87–68 in what was a tale of two halves.
Blues star forward, Callum Baker, felt that the Blues didn’t play with enough grit on Saturday night. Postgame, in an interview with The Varsity, he said, “We got out toughed, and we weren’t as physical.” That lack of physicality allowed the Gee-Gees to get to the rim with ease throughout the second half. Baker mentioned moments of good execution of offense and defense, but said, “We just have to keep that up for 40 minutes, to be the number one team in the country and achieve the goals we want.”
Weber led the team with 16 points and had a good defensive performance with three steals and one block.
The Blues will look to turn things around on January 27 against Western University at home in the Kimel Family Field House.