(Photo: Valerie Wutti)
(OTTAWA, ON) — The OUA playoffs are in full swing, and the Carleton Ravens men's basketball team appears to be in excellent form.
A strong offensive display courtesy of fourth-year Raven Connor Wood (Guelph, ON), in combination with a high-energy defensive effort, proved to be the perfect ingredients to halt the upstart Brock Badgers in a 90-52 OUA quarter-final playoff victory at the Ravens' Nest. Wood's career-high of 37 points and Brock's lowest scoring output of the season were enough to help send Carleton back to another OUA Final 4.
Not even a rowdy pack of nearly fifty Brock student supporters who made the long trip up from St. Catharines, ON could stop the Ravens out of the gate, as Carleton took command of the contest with a 26-6 first-quarter masterpiece. Wood and Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, ON) were nearly unstoppable in the opening ten minutes as both poured in buckets with driving finishes in the lane and silky strokes from the outside.
An explosive Brock offence did not live up to the billing in the first half as it was limited by poor shooting and ineffective sets that did not appear to be doing any damage against Carleton's gridlock defence.
"If we defend like we did tonight, we put ourselves in a situation to win," said guard Kaza Kajami-Keane after the Ravens quarter-final win. "Offence will come – it's all about defending and rebounding."
In the second quarter, Wood went off for nine points in a span of 1:31 that really sucked the life out of Badgers. Carleton would lead 46-22 after two.
The second half began much like the first, as Carleton continued to include excellent ball rotations in their potent offence. Connor Wood continued to be a shooting assassin as he scored 11 points in the third to extend Carleton's advantage to 67-34 after three. Though Brock continued to fight hard for second-chance opportunities, including a rare rebounding victory over Carleton (48-46), shots simply would not fall for the visitors. The Brock fans continued to cheer and loudly support their squad, but unfortunately for the Badgers' players, they did benefit from the encouragement.
With Brock's starters unable to find daylight, and the visitor's bench contributing little in terms of scoring, Carleton put away the game with a 23-18 fourth quarter.
The Ravens' number one ranked defence limited Brock's leading scorer Dani Elgadi to only 10 points on 1-for-9 shooting. Carleton also held Brock to its lowest-scoring game of the season.
"Our guys rebounded and defended well tonight," said interim head coach Rob Smart. "We played freely and attacked well on the offensive end – credit to Connor for his big performance."
The Badgers also committed twenty-two turnovers in the quarter-final match-up, tying the season-high amount they had in the opening game of the 2015-16 campaign.
One bright spot for Brock was sophomore Johneil Simpson, who followed up his strong regular season performance against the Ravens (Feb. 12) with a team-high 24 points for the Badgers this evening.
Carleton's bench came to life throughout the contest as Stanley Mayambo (Fredericton, NB) and Cam Smythe (Vancouver, BC) both finished with 8 points.
OUA FINAL 4
Carleton will face the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the OUA Final 4 semi-finals next Friday at Ryerson University in Toronto. It will be the third meeting between the two sides this season, with the Ravens falling short in the first two match-ups. There will certainly be a buzz at the Mattamy Athletic Centre as the the top two ranked teams in the country go head-to-head. Ryerson will meet Windsor in the other semi-final.
"The top teams in the country will be (at the OUA Final 4); we want our guys to continue playing hard and to enjoy it while they do it," added Smart.
Source: Carleton Ravens