Top-seeded Ravens prevail despite overtime scare from Badgers

Photo by Brock Badgers
Photo by Brock Badgers

BURLINGTON, Ont. - In a game that OUA basketball fans have had circled on their calendar since the season kicked off, the Brock Badgers hosted the Carleton Ravens on Saturday night, pitting the top two teams in country head-to-head to close out the fall schedule. The two national powerhouses needed an extra frame to find a winner, but in the end, the top-seeded Ravens edged out the Badgers 80-75 in overtime to seal their undefeated first half of the season.

With all of the hype surrounding the game, it’s no surprise that players on both sides of the ball came out ready to roll. For the Badgers, it was their leading scorer staying true to form to kick off the action, as Cassidy Ryan tallied eight early points to give the Badgers the lead out of the gates.

Responding in kind for the Ravens was Munis Tutu, who was able to connect on both of his long balls in the first quarter to not only lift the visitors back into the game, but into the lead. Tutu led the Ravens in scoring in the first, and along with Cameron Smythe (5 pts), helped to spearhead the Ravens to a 19-14 cushion after one quarter of play.

Heading to the second, the Ravens were able to keep their lead, thanks in large part to their proficiency from beyond the arc. Carleton was able to connect on 50% of their three-balls in the quarter, tallying a total of six in that span. The sharp-shooting play, which saw at least one downtown connection from five different Ravens in the quarter, was enough to keep the hometown Badgers at arm’s length for much of the quarter.

Doing his best to keep the Badgers in the game, Ryan continued to pour in the points, showing why he ranks in the top ten of the OUA in that regard. Ryan shot a sizzling 7-9 in the half with 17 points, but his offensive jolt wasn’t able to translate to the rest of the squad. Outside of the Mississauga, Ont. native, the Badgers shot just over 26% from the field, and despite a late push that saw Brock close the gap to just four, the Ravens would use their balanced scoring attack to bring a 39-31 lead to the locker room.

Coming out in the third, there was a rejuvenated energy in both squads; one that led to a much faster pace of play. While the Ravens were able to maintain their lead through much of the quarter, the Badgers, buoyed by the raucous Meridian Centre crowd, use a late push to close the gap to just three points, 53-50, after three quarters of play, setting up what would prove to be a thrilling final ten minutes.

Despite leading by as many as 12 points in the second half, the Ravens had their backs to the wall in the fourth quarter, as the Badgers’ persistent play kept chipping away at the top-ranked Ravens defence. Their hard work paid off down the stretch, as Brock was able to take their first lead since the first quarter and built that lead to as much as six with seven minutes to play. This jolt of offence was largely spearheaded by the second half efforts of Dani Elgadi, Daniel Cayer, and Kascius Small-Martin, who combined to score 25 after the break.

To no one’s surprise, however, the Ravens were not just going to roll over and hand the game to the hosts, and with just under three minutes to play, the two marquee combatants were all knotted up. With little to no separation down the stretch, fans were treated to what almost seemed like an inevitability between the equally-matched foes – overtime.  

Unfortunately for the record-setting crowd of 3,296, which topped the Brock basketball program’s previous high for attendance, the Badgers were unable to keep up in the extra frame, connecting on just one field goal in those final five minutes. As a result, Carleton was able to jump out to regain their five point cushion. Four points apiece in the added time from Smythe and Yaslan Joseph led the way for the Ravens, and from there, the team sealed the deal from the charity stripe to close out their 80-75 victory.

Neither team shot the ball particularly well from the field, as both fell well under 40% for the game, but the Ravens were able to separate themselves in the form of second chance points, bench points, and points off turnovers to help seal their victory. Despite tough shooting performances from a couple key Badgers, Brock would still finish with four players in double figures, led by a game-high 20 points from Ryan. The Ravens countered with a trio of double-digit scorers, led by Yaslan Joseph (17 pts) and Tutu, who finished with 14 points on the night.

With the marquee matchup now under their belts, both teams will join the rest of the conference in a well-deserved break. The Ravens (10-0) will return to action on January 5 when they host the Ryerson Rams, while the Badgers (9-2) will open their 2018 schedule on the road against the McMaster Marauders.