Much has been made over the past five seasons regarding the lack of productivity of uOttawa Gee-Gees 6’1″ Mike L’Africain in match-ups against 5-time defending national champions Carleton Ravens. Consider those discussions changed after last night’s dramatic Gee-Gees comeback in the latest edition of the Canal Wars, as L’Africain authored his Carleton/Ottawa game signature moment, taking over down the stretch with a pair of key baskets including the game-winning 5 footer on a strong take at the rim, giving uOttawa a 75-73 win. The loss was the first in over 7 seasons for Carleton against CIS competition at the Raven’s Nest.
With the Ravens up 8 and just 5 minutes remaining, 6’6″ Matt Plunkett knocked down a huge 3 and later L’Africain got to the rim for a Steve Nash-esque scoop to get to 1 with 2 minutes remaining. Mean while, 6’3″ Caleb Agada (team-high 23 points, 10 rebounds) went to work, knifing his way into the paint for lay-ups and drawing fouls. Defensively, the Gee-Gees tightened up – Carleton would miss their final 8 shots from the field including a couple of lay-ups – setting up L’Africain’s clutch take with about 40 seconds remaining.
While Carleton did get the ball inside offensively, the Gee-Gees may have exposed what has for more than a decade been staples of Carleton basketball: owning the defensive glass and not turning it over. Ottawa had a ridiculous 18 offensive rebounds and Ravens turned it over 15 times.
There were other heroes for the Gee-Gees, none less impactful than 6’3″ Medhi Tihani who hit several important 3’s throughout the game, beating late Carleton close-outs and Plunkett, who effectively guarded Ravens explosive 6’4″ post Guillaume Boucard inside (7 rebounds) and knocked down a pair of 3’s including the catalyst shot in the late rally as Ottawa ended the game on a 12-2 run.
From the start, the Ravens looked to attack from the inside out, isolating Boucard in the post on most possessions and the fifth-year forward from Montreal delivered, scoring 6 early points and finding 6’3″ Connor Wood for a 3 as Ravens established an early 5 point lead. Later Carleton led by 9 however back-to-back 3’s from Tihani and Plunkett gave Ottawa their first lead midway through the second and, until a late third quarter Carleton run, the game remained tight. Boucard finished with 20 points
After a slow start, 6’2″ Kaza Keene got going, finishing with 24 points to lead all scorers and 6 assists on 11-16 shooting. First-time Canal War teammate Ryan Ejim was effective inside with 14 points including 12 after halftime.
In another entertaining, high-drama game, the Gee-Gees took the first of what could be four games this season between the consensus #1 and #2 teams in the country.