After a first half that saw both teams challenged offensively – Carleton shot just 2 for 17 from three-point land while Ottawa turned the ball over 10 times in what may have been the shakiest half in Capital Hoops history, Gee-Gees took over in the third to complete a decisive two-game sweep of the Ravens as 6’1″ Mike L’Africain took over offensively, Ottawa cleaned up the defensive glass (Carleton had 12 offensive rebounds in the first half alone) and, when it appeared early in the fourth that Carleton may be grabbing back some momentum, 6’6″ Matt Plunkett knocked down a series of back-breaking 3’s as Ottawa re-took control for what ended up being a comfortable win in which the 78-72 score somewhat flattered the Ravens. The game was played before 10,105 fans the second largest crowd ever for this annual event at the Canadian Tire Center
L’Africian, who has saved his best Carleton game performances for his fifth and final year, was the best player on the floor – again filling the leadership role in the continuing absence of 6’3″ Caleb Agada who was dressed but did not see action. L’Africain scored 15 of his game-high 23 points after halftime including 9 points during a 16-8 mid-third-quarter run that gave Ottawa a 12 point lead. The star guard, who had opened the game with a pair of long 3’s for the left side but then amid sluggish play both teams struggled for the remainder of the half. But he took over in the third including a long 3 and creative scoop-finish take to the rim.
The first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter produced the most exciting offensive stretch of the entire game as 6’2″ Kaza Keene (19 points, 6 assists) got going to keep the game around 10 points but then Plunkett (14 points, 4-5 3’s) put his mark on the contest, first with a three off an offensive rebound scramble and then back-to-back 3’s with the shot clock winding down.
While Carleton continues their decades-long tradition of defending and rebounding, the Ravens lack a consistent scoring threat in the post – 6’5″ Guillaume Bochard is a valiant rebounder but last night’s continued iso’s in the low post did not yield the desired double down to kick-start perimeter defensive rotations, let alone any successful inside finishes – by the naked eye, Boucard started the game about 1 for 7 or 8 from low-post dump downs. His 19-point, 12 rebound effort was a bit deceiving as he had 12 in the fourth quarter including 6 when the game was well decided. The perimeter shooting, once a staple of Carleton basketball, also completely deserted the Ravens as 6’4″ Connor Wood and 6’3″ Gavin Resch, usually the recipients of dribble-drive-induced close-out or open 3’s, combined to shoot just 6 for 19 from 3 including 2 for 12 in the first half. At this point, the Ravens are anything but a certainty from even qualifying for the CIS Nationals.
The two-game sweep was the first for Ottawa over Carleton since 2007 when both teams qualified for the Nationals with the Ravens winning their 5th consecutive championship. Both teams have difficult road assignments next weekend in Hamilton against McMaster and in St. Catharines against Brock, which won a tight game at U of T last night.