SAULT STE. MARIE - After a month break, the Algoma basketball teams opened the second half of their debut OUA and CIS season at home with losses to two of the top teams in the country, the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
In the men's game, Algoma was in tough against the number two ranked team in Canada.
The Thunderbirds jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and dominated the play early on, out-rebounding the Gee-Gees 11-4 in the first quarter.
Ottawa clawed their way back, tying the game at the end of the first quarter, 20-20.
The garnet and grey found their rhythm in the second, and finished the half leading 45-33.
The Thunderbirds chipped away at the lead in the third, but still trailed the Gee-Gees by 10 going into the final 10 minutes.
Two turnovers gave Ottawa's Terry Thomas the chance to widen the gap to 15, securing the Gee-Gees ninth win of the season, 96-82.
Terry Thomas and John Berhanemeskel let the Gee-Gees with 23 points each.
Jimmy Belinga (shown above) led the Thunderbirds with 20 points in their losing effort.
The Gee-Gees shot 46.2 percent from the field and the Thunderbirds shot 43.3.
Ottawa continues to hold strong at 9-1 in the east, second only to the Carleton Ravens.
The Thunderbirds fall to 3-7.
In the women's action, the Gee-Gees drew first blood.
Playing with increased intensity and physicality in the defensive end, the Thunderbirds kept the game close in the first quarter, trailing by five.
In the second, the reigning CIS bronze medalists went on an eight-point run to widen the gap, 20-12.
The full-court pressure from the Gee-Gees stifled the Thunderbirds, and the Gee-Gees pulled away, leading 43-23 at half.
The Thunderbirds were out-rebounded in the third quarter by the garnet and grey 10-8, bringing the score to 66-41 at the close of the third.
With a technical foul called on Ottawa's Angela Tilk, the Thunderbirds were able to chip into the deficit, but still trailed the Gee-Gees at the buzzer, losing 85-49.
Stephanie MacDonald led the boards with 21 points for the Gee-Gees, followed by Sarah Besselink with 12.
The team shot 44.1 percent from the field while the Thunderbirds shot 39 percent.
Sydney Resch led the Thunderbirds with a season-high record of 17 points.
The CIS number 10 ranked Gee-Gees now stand at 7-3, tied in the OUA East with the Queen's Gaels.
The Thunderbirds remain at the bottom at 0-7.
"The team played hard and aggressive against the top team in the division. They have been practicing hard all break and in training camp. 2014 is a new year, and the team came out tonight as a new team," said Head Coach Ryan Vetrie.
The action continues tomorrow as the Thunderbirds take on the Carleton Ravens.
The men's team are the defending CIS champions for three consecutive years, looking for their tenth CIS title.
The women are currently tied for second in the OUA East with 6-3.
Photos by Kenneth Armstrong for SooToday.com