It was an ugly start to the year, but the Ottawa BlackJacks have found their rhythm.
Ottawa (5-8) picked up its fourth win in its last five with a 100-79 statement victory over the Fraser Valley Bandits (9-5) on Friday in Ottawa.
It was also the second game in a row in which the BlackJacks have scored 100-plus points.
“We’re just getting a better feel for playing with each other. We’re moving the ball real well, Walt’s been doing a great job running point and getting in the paint and getting guys easy shots,” Ottawa forward Deng Adel said post -game.
The theme of the game for the BlackJacks turned out to be different from what the story of their season has been — a strong start and even stronger finish.
Ottawa took command early, gradually pushing its edge from six points to nine, then to 11 as the team continued to find success on both ends in the opening frame.
Going into the second down 29-17, Fraser Valley went on a 10-2 run to open the quarter cutting the lead down to just four.
However, the BlackJacks had an answer in the form of an 8-2 run to bump themselves into a 39-29 lead. Another 11-3 run from the home team only made life harder for the Bandits as there was no slowing down Ottawa from distance.
The BlackJacks took a 53-42 lead into half, hitting 56 per cent from three and 55 from the field, compared to Fraser Valley’s 25 per cent from beyond the arc and 36 per cent overall.
In the third, Ottawa got going early and continued to have its way offensively, but the Bandits found a crack in the BlackJacks’ armor, and took advantage. From the 7:42 mark to 5:05, Fraser Valley orchestrated a 13-4 run to trim a once 16-point deficit to just seven.
Despite the swing in momentum, Fraser Valley’s issues from earlier persisted — it’s capability or lack thereof, to hold onto the runs it put together. Ottawa struck back soon after with a 15-2 run to take a 17-point lead and eventually end the frame up 76-66.
The Bandits again cut the lead down to six, but that’s as close as they would get. In the final minute before the Elam Ending, Ottawa went on an 8-2 run to go up 90-76.
The BlackJacks eventually closed out the game on a Walt Lemon Jr. three-pointer, holding Fraser Valley to just three points in the final stretch.
Adel led the way with 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while Lemon Jr. scored 20 points to go with six rebounds and seven assists. Bernard Thompson and Tyrell Green added 14 and 12 in the win.
The Bandits were led by Alex Campbell’s 20 points, with James Karnik and Shane Gibson contributing 17 and 16, respectively.
Ottawa will begin a three-game road trip against the Edmonton Stingers on Tuesday at 9 pm ET. Fraser Valley on the other hand, is set to face the struggling Montreal Alliance on Monday at 7:30 pm ET.
All games can be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, CBC Sports App, and CBC Gem.
WATCH | CEBL on CBC: Fraser Valley Bandits vs. Ottawa Black Jacks: