Contributed by: Tyler Bennett / College Court Report Canada (@CCR_Canada)
Undefeated no more.
All eyes were on Ottawa this weekend as the Ryerson Rams were on the road for a weekend set against the Ottawa Gee-Gees and the undefeated Carleton Ravens. When the dust settled and the weekend came to a close, the Rams made a massive statement with a pair of wins over two of the top teams in the country. Now, the Rams and Ravens find themselves tied atop the OUA East Division with matching 17-1 records with just three weeks to go in the regular season.
Two words: Buckle up.
Elsewhere in the OUA, another lengthy winning streak came to an end, while another program continues its impressive turnaround from a down 2017-18 season, thanks in large part to a key transfer with NCAA Division I experience.
Two streak-ending games took the headlines this week across the OUA, and here’s what you may have missed in the latest edition of Courtside Seats.
Ryerson puts an end to Carleton’s perfect season
All good things must come to an end, and for the Carleton Ravens, their bid for a perfect season was that good thing, ending at the hands of the Ryerson Rams in their second meeting of the season.
Both programs brought home a national medal a year ago, and with similarly talented rosters for the 2018-19 season, it was no surprise that they would remain in medal contention this year as well, which makes any head-to-head meeting a special one.
Back on January 5 in the first game of the winter semester, the Ravens and Rams met inside the Mattamy Athletic Centre in the first marquee match-up between the two schools in 2018-19. The pair of Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, Ont.) and Yasiin Joseph (Ottawa, Ont.) combined for 43 points off the bench to lead the way for Carleton, and the Ravens held on down the stretch to pick up the 76-69 victory on the road.
Over the weekend, the Rams had their sights set on some redemption on the Ravens’ home floor, and they came ready to play.
Ryerson made sure that it was them who took a lead at halftime this time around. After falling behind by two points after the opening 10 minutes, the Rams outscored the Ravens by a 23-17 margin in the second quarter to take a slim 40-36 lead into the locker room. Against a team like the Ravens, the Rams knew they would need to keep their foot on the gas in the second half if they wanted to come away victorious.
Out of the break, the Rams continued their positive momentum on both ends of the floor. They scored the first six points of the half, and a layup from Yusuf Ali (Toronto, Ont.) gave the visitors a 10-point lead with under seven minutes to play in the quarter. On the defensive end, they held the Ravens without a point for over three minutes before TJ Lall (Cambridge, Ont.) got a layup of his own to fall to get Carleton on the board.
Ryerson’s lead would reach as many as 15 points in the third quarter as a three-point play from JV Mukama (Hamilton, Ont.) with 4:34 to play gave the Rams a 53-38 lead. The rest of the frame was all Carleton as they answered with a 16-1 run over the next three-plus minutes to make things interesting heading into the final frame. Lall capped the run with a second-chance layup with under a minute to play to bring the Ravens to within a point, 55-54.
In the final quarter, the Ravens flipped the script and came out of the gates strong. They scored the first nine points of the frame to take a 63-59 lead while keeping Ryerson off the board for more than three minutes. Ekiyor scored eight of the nine points for Carleton on their run to open the quarter.
Back and forth the teams went down the stretch with neither side gaining much separation. In the final minute, and with his team down by a point, Mukama stepped into the role of hero and put the game in Ryerson’s favour the rest of the way. His three ball with just 33 seconds left on the clock put Ryerson ahead by one, at 75-74, and they would keep the lead through to the finish.
In the closing seconds, Ali hit three free throws to seal the deal on the major win for the Rams. And in their second and final regular season meeting of the year, the Rams downed the Ravens to end their perfect season, 78-74.
Mukama led the way for the Rams with a game-high 25 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists. Myles Charvis (Mississauga, Ont.) added 21 points, while Yusuf Ali chipped in with 12 in the win. For Carleton, both Eddie Ekiyor and TJ Lall finished the night with double-doubles. Ekiyor posted a team-best 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds, while Lall chipped in with 16 points and 10 boards of his own.
In another battle between the top two teams in the OUA, the game did not disappoint. It had back-and-forth action from the opening tip down to the final buzzer, and it could very well be a precursor to the Wilson Cup and possibly the U SPORTS National Championship games.
Here’s to hoping we get at least one more instalment of the Carleton-Ryerson series in 2018-19.
Lakehead stops Western’s win streak at seven with weekend sweep
Like the Ravens discovered at the hands of Ryerson on Saturday, good things came to an end for the Western Mustangs over the weekend on the road in Thunder Bay. The Mustangs were up north for a pair of contests against the Lakehead Thunderwolves inside CJ Sanders Fieldhouse, and while they rode into the weekend on a seven-game winning streak, they left searching for some answers.
When all was said and done, Lakehead extended their own winning streak to three games while sending Western back to London riding a two-game losing skid.
The Mustangs came into the week ranked No. 10 in the latest U SPORTS Top 10 rankings as a result of their lengthy winning streak. At 12-4 overall, the Mustangs sat alone in first-place in the West Division, one game ahead of the Laurier Golden Hawks and two ahead of the Brock Badgers. The Thunderwolves were coming off a win over the McMaster Marauders in their previous outing, and they were looking to build some more momentum ahead of the post-season to try and steal a spot.
In Friday’s game, the Thunderwolves came out of the gates on fire, but had to sweat out the win down the stretch. Lakehead opened a 27-8 lead over the Mustangs after the opening 10 minutes, but they failed to build on that cushion in each of the remaining three quarters. Western outscored the Thunderwolves from there out, but their comeback efforts fell just short in the end.
Lakehead bent but didn’t break in the end, and the Thunderwolves ended Western’s winning streak with an 85-84 decision. Guard Isaiah Traylor (Tupelo, MS) posted a game-high 29 points to go along with nine rebounds, while hometown guard Jared Kreiner (Thunder Bay, Ont.) added 14 points off the bench. Omar Shiddo (Toronto, Ont.) did what he could to help Western extend their winning streak, finishing the night with 24 points and five assists to lead four Mustangs in double-figures in the loss.
The next night, Western came out of the gates with a much better effort on offence as they tried to earn a split on their trip. The Mustangs posted 23 points in the first quarter alone, and they held a 37-34 lead after the opening 20 minutes of the contest. Shiddo scored 14 of his 26 points in the first half to help Western build some positive momentum after their loss the previous night.
It was Lakehead’s turn to play from behind on Saturday; however, and they proved to be up for the challenge in front of their home fans. The teams went back and forth over the course of the third quarter with both sides trading slim leads throughout. A three ball from Kreiner with 1:10 to play in the frame gave Lakehead a 53-51 lead; one that they would carry into the deciding fourth quarter.
Eriq Jenkins (Windsor, Ont.) opened the quarter with a three pointer to give Western a 54-53 lead, but the Thunderwolves answered in a big way. Back-to-back three balls from Kreiner and Traylor kicked off a 16-0 run for the home side that put all the momentum at their backs. Western got to within four points with under a minute left on a layup from Shiddo, but Lock Lam (Ottawa, Ont.) got a layup of his own to fall to give Lakehead the 79-73 win when the final buzzer sounded.
Once again, Omar Shiddo led four Western players in double-figures in a losing effort with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Isaiah Traylor led four Thunderwolves in double-figures with 17 points, while Nick Burke (Hamilton, Ont.) finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Last year, the Thunderwolves picked up just two wins over the course of the season. Fast forward to this year, they have tripled their win total as they sit at 6-12 to this point in 2018-19 with six games still to play. There’s a chance that they could finish at .500 for the year, but they would need to win out to do so. However, this year has been a considerable improvement for the team and the fact that they have an outside chance at a playoff spot in the West Division is something to be said for their turnaround.
With two games against each of the Waterloo Warriors, Laurier Golden Hawks, and Brock Badgers ahead of them the rest of the way, there’s no telling what the Thunderwolves can accomplish over the final three weeks of the regular season.