BURLINGTON, Ont. – There was no denying the Ravens on this night, as Carleton turned in a dynamic performance on both ends of the floor to avenge their last two Wilson Cup defeats, toppling the two-time reigning champion Ryerson Rams, 84-58, in the 2017-18 championship game.
It’s no surprise that the Ravens would be looking to right the Wilson Cup ship after back-to-back defeats in the provincial finale, and they were able to do just that on Saturday night at the Ravens’ Nest. On both the offensive and defensive ends, the undefeated Carleton squad came out of the gates quick; a formula they would use to find success all game long en route to their lopsided victory.
Right from the tip-off, the Ravens jumped out to an 11-3 lead, backed by a pair of three balls from Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Anderson. Anderson wasn’t doing it alone; however, as the team’s leading scorers from the regular season – Eddie Ekiyor and Yasiin Joseph – chipped in with a few baskets of their own in the early going.
As has been the case in this storied rivalry, however, Ryerson was ready to put up a fight against their fellow perennial powerhouse, and responded with an 11-2 run to close the quarter and earn an 18-18 tie heading into the second frame. Leading the way for the Rams in the early going was a collection of players, including First-Team All-Star Manny Diressa, whose back-to-back triples were key to Ryerson’s electric end to the quarter.
Flipping the script back in their favour, however, the Ravens jumped out to another quick start to kick off the second quarter and quickly make that tie game a thing of the past. A pair of threes from Stanley Mayambo sparked the home team’s push, as did an additional deep ball from Eman Owootoah, but the offense extended to the paint as well. Mitch Wood and Cam Smythe etched their names onto the score sheet with some prominent work inside, all of which culminated in an eight-point lead at the half.
True to form, meanwhile, the nation’s number one seed was able to find another gear coming out of the break, and it proved to be too much for the Rams to overcome. Not only did the Ravens pour in a quick 16 points in the first five minutes of the half, but they were perhaps even more impressive on the other end; shutting out the high-octane Ryerson offense – which averaged 81.6 PPG in the regular season – for the first seven minutes of the quarter. During this dominant run, which was sparked by the defensive play of Anderson and Ekiyor – both of whom were limited in the first half due to foul trouble – the Ravens built their lead to upwards of 20 points, closing out the quarter with a 65-43 cushion.
From there, it was business as usual for Carleton, who used a true team effort to close out the final frame; dethroning the reigning champions and continuing their undefeated campaign in the process.
A booming bench performance from Mayambo, wherein he poured in a game-high 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting, earned the third-year guard the Kitch MacPherson Player of the Game award, but another trio of double-digit scorers – Smythe (12), Joseph (11), and Anderson (10) – all played a role to close out the OUA schedule on a winning note. Joseph also chipped in with team-leading marks of 10 assists and seven rebounds.
While Carleton was finding terrific success on the offensive end – shooting an electric 49.2% from the field and otherworldly 48.1% from downtown – it was a different story for the Rams against the relentless Ravens defense. Ryerson was held to just 33.3% shooting for the game, which included a 7-for-34 showing from beyond the arc (20.6%), showing once and for all why Carleton is the top-ranked defense in the country.
For the OUA silver medallists, who couldn’t quite manage to turn the trifecta over the Ravens in Wilson Cup play, they were led by the likes of Diressa, who scored 10 for the game, along with rookie Tanor Ngom, whose double-digit performance on the province’s biggest stage continue to show a bright future for the youngster from Senegal.
Both Ryerson and Carleton will now make the trek out east for a matchup with the rest of the U SPORTS elite, as the national championship is set to take place from March 8-11 in Halifax. Both OUA schools will be looking to make their mark on the national stage once again, but it will be the Ravens hoping to score their eighth consecutive banner.