Ravens edge Rams in thriller

Carleton 82, Ryerson 77… In arguably the most exciting U-Sport game to date this season, Ravens got a strong performance down the stretch from 6’2″ Kaza Kajami-Keane, holding off the well-prepared, hot-shooting Rams who were well worthy of a victory.  Rams, who had it to within 2 with 40 seconds left, were led primarily by the outstanding play at both ends of 6’4″ Ammanuel Diressa, who had 21 of his game-high 26 points after halftime and, as importantly, defensively dominated Ravens 6’4″ guard Connor Wood, holding the normally-high scoring wing to just one field goal while he guarded him – Wood did finish with 11 points including 9 in the final 11 minutes of the game, most notable an end-to-end take entirely with his left hand at full speed when it counted.  Keane had a pair of clutch finishes down the stretch including a very difficult take to the rim that expanded the lead to 4 with about 25 seconds remaining.  Rams had exploded to a 9 point third quarter lead, opening the second half with a 14-2 run behind 8 points from Diressa and book-ended by threes from 6’3″ Adika Peter-McNeilly (14 points) and 6’5″ freshman forward Keevon Small.  Rams were 13 for 28 from downtown and played an almost-perfect road game, taking care of the ball (only 12 turnovers) and shooting 88% from the foul line.  But, a pair of threes by 6’4″ Joe Rocca (15 points/ 4-6 threes) gave Ravens the lead late in the third and then Keane later led a 9-2 run to put Carleton up by 10 with 5 minutes left.  But Rams were equal to it, getting big stops and generally limiting Carleton second chances to bring the game back with some dramatic threes by Diressa and 6’5″ Juwon Grannum, who again showed wonderful senior leadership and made at least 2 clutch 3’s down the stretch.  Carleton also got a huge game at both ends from 6’3″ Marcus Anderson who made a clutch three late and went 3 of 4 from downtown.  Rams were very well prepared defensively, guarding Carleton’s horns set well and styming Ravens transition games and even creating uncharacteristic turnovers for scores by jamming Carleton’s outlet at least three times (first time I ever saw that work was by the great Eddie P at Bishop’s vs. Ottawa U circa 1994).  But in the end, Keane was great down the stretch, Wood made one big play going end-to-end with his left hand the entire way and making a very difficult finish and Carleton survived what was a classic U-Sport game at the Raven’s Nest.



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