In what could be a watershed game for CIS basketball, Ryerson Rams – after a slow start – thoroughly dominated the defending national champion Carleton Ravens in a convincing 79-61 before a loud, excited and jam packed Mattamy Athletic Center in Toronto. Defensively, the Rams length, athleticism and changing defenses – coach Patrick Tatham sprinkled in zones and creative doubles out of their man – held Carleton to just 42 points in the final 32 minutes of the game and Rams bench outscored Ravens 48-16, led by reserve 6’4″ Ammanuel Diressa who led all scorers with 21 points on 5-7 3’s and 6’4″ lefty Filip Vujadinovic who helped kick start the second quarter rally with a pair of 3’s. For fans almost bored with the usual uOttawa & Carleton dominance, the Rams win illustrates that the quest for the National championship is much wider open that previously thought.
Still, off the top of the game, it looked like things would be closer to the status quo as Carleton isolated 6’5″ Guillaume Boucard in the post and the fifth-year forward got to the foul line or found teammates for easy lay-ups or open 3’s, catapulting the Ravens to a 14-2 lead. Boucard’s three from the left wing gave Carleton a 19-8 lead with under 2 minutes to play in the first and the route appeared to be on. Ravens completely locked down Rams in the quarter court, forcing tough end-of-the-shot clock shots and eliminated any Ryerson transition opportunities. But 6’4″ Aaron Best slashed to the rim for an “and 1″ after a Ravens turnover and flood gates were opened. Carleton turned the ball over 20 times on the evening, the most by the Ravens in recent memory.
With the early cushion, Ravens went deeper into their bench than last week’s game against uOttawa and the results were not pretty, as an inability to gain advantages off the dribble limited open 3’s and a lack of finish around the rim – Rams dominated the paint area including 4 blocks by 6’7” Adam Voll – caused Carleton to shoot a season-low 30% from the floor including just 24% after starting the game making 7 of their first 11 shots.
Diressa was on fire throughout the game knocking down 3’s against porous Raven ball-screen “d” and Rams depth was dominating, winning by a large margin despite getting only a combined 15 points on 5-21 shooting including 2 for 13 from 3 from Best and star 6’3″ wing Adika Peter-McNeilly. 6’7″ J.V. Mukuma was also instrumental in the win especially at the defense end creating several momentum-changing turnovers while 6’8″ Kadeem Green was presence inside at both ends with 7 rebounds off the bench.
For the reeling Ravens, now losers of two games in a row – if my fleeting memory serves the last time that happened in OUA regular season play was Coach Dave Smart’s first season at the helm in 1999-2000 – this was one of their ugliest efforts since prior to their first national championship with the aforementioned 20 turnovers and a terrible 9 for 19 effort at the foul line. Winning big games on the road are usually characterized by taking care of the ball, making your free throws and controlling the glass. While Carleton did have over 20 offensive rebounds their lack of size and athleticism inside made many of their put-backs difficult.
Ryerson now has an opportunity to be placed in the discussion for #1 in the country when they host present #1 uOttawa Gee-Gees tonight at the MAC in front of what promises to be another jam-packed house. Gee-Gees pulled away late in the second quarter for what turned into an easy win at U of T, despite not having their best all-round player 6’3″ Caleb Agada in the lineup due to an ankle injury that is likely to keep him out for the next 2-3 weeks.
In other OUA action, 6’2″ Will Coulthard capped a 32 point evening with the go-ahead basket with just 22 seconds remaining as Laurier held Nipissing scoreless for the last 5 minutes of the game in a 73-72 victory over the Lakers in North Bay. Coach Peter Campbell now prepares for what is likely to be an emotional match tonight in Sudbury against his protegee Shawn Swords and Laurentian. The Vees jumped out to leads as high as 25 in a dominant 77-70 win over Waterloo although the Warriors did get it down to 3 with about 5 minutes remaining.