Contributed by: Tyler Bennett / College Court Report Canada (@CCR_Canada)
If you’re just joining us after the football season came to a close, what a year you’ve missed so far. If you’ve been here since the start of the season, you’ll know how exciting the first month of the 2018-19 season has been. From a season-opening triple-double from the reigning U SPORTS Male Student-Athlete of the Year to overtime thrillers and near buzzer-beaters, the OUA season has more than lived up to the hype.
Atop the standings, one will find the usual suspects. The Ryerson Rams (9-0) and Carleton Ravens (8-0) are the last two unbeaten teams in the league after sweeping their two games over the weekend. Both teams finished with medals at the 2018 U SPORTS National Championships, and they are two of the top contenders in the country once again this season.
And while the Rams and Ravens swept their weekend games, there were other standout performances that deserve some attention as well. Here are the top storylines that you may have missed from the last seven days in and around the OUA.
Record-breaking night for Ali Sow
The reigning OUA Rookie of the Year has his sights set on even more hardware in 2018-19.
Ali Sow (Ottawa, ON) put together an impressive rookie campaign in 2017-18 for the Laurier Golden Hawks. Over the course of the season, the 6’0’’ guard averaged 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game to earn the accolades. Now, in 2018-19, Sow he has set himself apart as an early MVP contender.
This past weekend, the OUA’s second-leading scorer strengthened his case for the league’s top award with a record-breaking performance for the Golden Hawks against the Nipissing Lakers.
For the first time since 2012, the Golden Hawks were ranked inside the U SPORTS top 10, coming in at No. 9 with a record of 5-3 overall. At week’s end, the Golden Hawks had pushed their record to 7-3 by extending their winning streak to four games overall. Their streak grew in large part thanks to some late-game heroics from Sow against the Lakers on Saturday.
Laurier found themselves down seven with just 39 seconds left in the game, but they managed to force overtime and eventually came away with a 108-103 victory. On the night, Sow set a modern-day scoring record for the Golden Hawks, posting 44 points in the win. It eclipsed the previous scoring record of 43 points, one that was set back in January of 2013 by Max Allin.
For comparison, Sow’s previous career-high was 33 points.
Sow now ranks second in the league in scoring, averaging 25.0 points per contest through Laurier’s first 10 games. He trails only Kadre Gray (Toronto, ON) of the Laurentian Voyageurs for the league lead in that category. Across the board, Sow is either on pace with last year’s numbers or better. He is averaging 25.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game for the OUA West Division leaders, and he is showing no signs of slowing down.
Including exhibition play, Sow has six games with at least 30 points to his name this season. He is one of the top scorers in the country, let alone the OUA, and with his team now in first place in the OUA West Division, Sow and the Golden Hawks are an opponent that nobody will want to come across once playoffs roll around.
Depth leads Carleton to weekend sweep
The Carleton Ravens are the top-ranked team in the country for a reason, and they are showing zero signs of slowing down.
Over the weekend, the Ravens extended their winning streak to eight games to begin the 2018-19 season with a pair of commanding wins over two teams many thought would be tough tests at home. Instead, Carleton picked up double-digit wins over the McMaster Marauders and Brock Badgers. What carried the Ravens to victory is something that all coaches would love to have on their roster.
In both games, Carleton utilized 12 players each night to lead them to victory. Against the Badgers on Friday night, each player saw at least eight minutes of court time while 11 of the 12 players recorded at least two points. The next night against the Marauders, every player recorded double-digit minutes on the court, while all but one player again recorded a bucket.
While both performances were strong wins as a cohesive unit, it was the Ravens’ win against the Marauders that showed how talented and balanced this year’s Carleton team really is.
Carleton jumped out to a 27-16 lead after the first quarter and never looked back, cruising to the 115-62 win over McMaster to push their record to 8-0 in the process. In the win, only one player saw more than 22 minutes of court time. Off the bench, Stanley Mayambo (Fredericton, NB) played a team-high 30 minutes on the night, recording seven points in the win.
Alain Louis (Montreal, QC) played just 10 minutes in the win, but finished the night with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. TJ Lall (Cambridge, ON) led all scorers on the night with 23 points.
The Ravens have a plethora of weapons on the offensive end who are capable of leading the team in scoring on any given night. With a slew of former NCAA Division I players on their roster that add more depth to the mix, the Ravens continue to prove why they are the team to beat across the U SPORTS landscape once again this year.
Head coach Dave Smart has his team playing with a ton of confidence, and that’s a scary thing for the rest of the OUA. Add in the trust that Smart in his team that allows him to put out different lineups to offer up different looks and keep opponents on their toes, and that’s a lethal combination in the nation’s capital.
York drops Lakehead in triple-overtime thriller
Overtime games are fun. Triple overtime games add another element of excitement to the mix, with an added dose of stress for everyone involved on the court, on the sidelines, and in the stands.
For fans and players of the York Lions and Lakehead Thunderwolves, stress levels were turned to the max as the two saw their game on Saturday go into a third extra frame before a winner was ultimately decided. York went on the road to Thunder Bay, Ont. and came away with a tough 112-104 win over the Thunderwolves to push their record to 3-5 on the year.
With the loss, Lakehead dropped to 2-6.
Down the stretch, the ball was in the hands of Gianmarco Luciani (Maple, ON). With just over 4.0 seconds left in regulation, Luciani hit a three-pointer to bring the Lions even with the Thunderwolves at 78-all and force overtime. Then, in the first overtime, his heave from his own side of half court found its way to the bottom of the basket. Unfortunately, the buzzer had gone before the ball left his hands, and the game was off to a second overtime.
Eventually, a third overtime was needed, and York would pull away from Lakehead for the eight-point win, outscoring the Thunderwolves by a 16-8 margin over the final five minutes of the game.
Luciani led all scorers on the night, posting 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds for York. DeAndrae Pierre (Brampton, ON) continued his strong first season in the OUA, recording 19 points and nine rebounds in the win for the Lions. For the Thunderwolves, it was Alston Harris (Ottawa, ON) who led the way in a losing effort, finishing the night with a team-high 25 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
It was an aesthetically-pleasing stat line for those who have a fascination with numbers and fancy coincidences. Both teams attempted an even 100 shots from the floor, and both teams hit 25 free throws over the course of the night. York, however, shot 41.0% from the floor in the win, while the Thunderwolves were held to 34.0% shooting.
Saturday marked the second overtime game of the season for York, and they are now 2-0 when they need extra time to decide a winner this season. In fact, two of their three wins have come in overtime.