Quest for the Cup: A closer look at the semifinal matchups hitting the hardwood

Quest for the Cup: A closer look at the semifinal matchups hitting the hardwood

Burlington, Ont. - Convincing wins and down-to-the-wire finishes came to fruition in the quarterfinal clashes, leaving the quest for the Wilson Cup down to just four teams. Star players and talent-laden supporting casts will each look to buoy their team to the provincial finale this weekend, but first, some of the best in the business have to go through each other in semifinal action. 

No. 2 Ryerson Rams (21-2) v. No. 1 Laurier Golden Hawks (18-6)


Pre-Game | For the first time in 43 years, the Laurier Golden Hawks will host a semifinal playoff game in Waterloo. Laurier finished the regular as the top seed in the West Division, and after a six-point win over the McMaster Marauders in their quarterfinal contest, the Golden Hawks will host the Ryerson Rams with a spot in the Wilson Cup finals on the line. The Rams are the reigning U SPORTS silver medalists, and they’ll have their sights set on securing a return trip to the national championship with a win on Wednesday.

Players to Watch | The Rams had the Golden Hawks’ number this season, and what’s more, Ryerson is coming off a dominant performance against the Ottawa Gee-Gees that should give them an even greater boost of confidence heading into Wednesday night against Laurier. Tanor Ngom (Dakar, Senegal) and Jayden Frederick (Scarborough, Ont.) took on starring roles against the Gee-Gees in the team’s 84-61 win. The former went for 22 points and 14 rebounds in what was an efficient night from the floor (9-of-10 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the free throw line). The latter, meanwhile, posted 22 points, seven rebounds, and four steals while shooting 9-of-13 from the floor himself. If players like Ngom and Frederick can keep churning out performances like Saturday night’s showing up front, that takes the pressure off the backcourt duo JV Mukama (Hamilton, Ont.) and Myles Charvis (Mississauga, Ont.) on both ends of the floor. The pair are among the two-way players in the country, and when they bring their A-games, the Rams are as tough as it gets on the hardwood.

The last time that Laurier took on Ryerson, guard Ali Sow (Ottawa, Ont.) didn’t have his best game of the season. Sow finished with just eight points in their regular season encounter, but don’t expect a similar performance this time around. With his 639 points this season, Sow set the new record for most points scored in the regular season in OUA history, and he will look to add even more postseason points to his career total in front of the home crowd, much like he did last weekend. In Laurier’s 94-89 win over McMaster on Saturday, Sow dropped 36 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the floor. While the second-year guard put forth another impressive performance, the Golden Hawks also received big nights from both Kemel Archer (Brampton, Ont.) and Ntore Habimana (Mississauga, Ont.) to help them soar into the semis. Archer finished with 20 points, nine boards, and two assists off the bench, while Habimana recorded 22 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks. Laurier’s Big Three will need to be in their finest of form when they tip off against the Rams if they want to punch their ticket to Saturday’s Wilson Cup finale.

Season Series | Laurier and Ryerson met just once in the regular season, with that meeting coming way back in early November in just the fifth game of the season for the Rams and sixth for the Golden Hawks. While the Rams were the road team on the night, you couldn’t tell by the way they came out of the gates and took control of the contest from the outset. Ryerson jumped out to a 27-17 lead after the first quarter and they never looked back, cruising to the 97-52 win.

The nation’s No. 3 squad posted five different players in double-figures, led by 27 points from Mukama. Forward Filip Vujadinovic (Burlington, Ont.) had himself a strong game on both ends of the floor as well, posting 15 points and grabbing 15 rebounds for his efforts, 11 of which came on the defensive end. Jackson Mayers (London, Ont.) led the Golden Hawks with 12 points in the loss. 

November 10, 2018 | Ryerson 97 Laurier 52

 

No. 3 Brock Badgers (16-8) v. No. 1 Carleton Ravens (22-1)


Pre-Game | Two teams who took part in last year’s U SPORTS Final Eight will go head-to-head on Wednesday night with a spot in the Wilson Cup finals – and a return trip to the national championship - on the line. The Brock Badgers entered the postseason as the third seed in the West, and after a thrilling win in the quarters, they will head out on the road to take on the perennial contenders from Carleton. The Ravens will look to show off the same level of play that earned them the provincial banner a year ago, but as the Badgers have shown in their pair of down-to-the-wire postseason affairs, Carleton will have to step up until the final buzzer to secure the win on Wednesday.

Players to Watch | In their win over the Western Mustangs in the quarterfinals, the Badgers needed some late-game heroics to come away with the road decision. Third-year guard Tyler Brown (Hamilton, Ont.) provided just that when he got his floater in the lane to drop at the buzzer, keeping Brock’s season alive with the 89-88 result. Brown finished the night with a team-best 26 points to go along with five rebounds and six assists. Veteran guard Johneil Simpson (Toronto, Ont.) continued his strong play of late, posting 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting in the win. Down the stretch in the regular season, Simpson took his game to another level to help the Badgers gain momentum heading into the quest for the Wilson Cup and that has continued right into the playoffs. One of the more surprising performances for the Badgers against the Mustangs was via the play of Michael Vos Otin (Mississauga, Ont.). Vos Otin finished the night with 16 points and 12 rebounds, up from his seasonal averages of 5.2 and 3.0, respectively. If Brock wants to have success against the Ravens, role players like Vos Otin will need to find another level in their games to keep pace with the depth and talent of Carleton from the outset.

With all the talent that they have on their roster, the Ravens have several players who can go off at any given time. In their 80-63 win over the Queen’s Gaels on Saturday, the Ravens had six players fit that bill with at least six points, with three of them posting double-figures and two topping the 20-point plateau. Transfer guard Isiah Osborne (Windsor, Ont.) led all scorers with 25 points on 11-of-14 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds in 25 minutes of court time off the bench. Backcourt mate Yasiin Joseph (Ottawa, Ont.) paced the starting five with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while forward Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, Ont.) posted 12 points in the victory. One advantage that Carleton has over most teams in the OUA is their size, both up front and in the back court. They have nine players listed at 6’5’’ or taller, giving them an advantage on both ends of the court. Against a shorter Brock team, look for the Ravens to exploit their advantage in the paint and on the glass to generate second-chance opportunities on offence and get out in transition on the defensive end.  

Season Series | It’s been a while since the Ravens and Badgers met on the court, but back in November in their only regular season meeting, it was all Carleton. The Ravens flexed their muscle across the board in their convincing home victory, defeating the St. Catharines squad by an 86-46 margin. In the second quarter, Carleton outscored the Badgers by a 27-5 mark to put the game out of reach, and they cruised in the second half to post the 40-point win. As a team, Brock shot just 29.1% (16-of-55) from the floor and were held to single digit points in both the second and fourth quarters.

Johneil Simpson was the only player for the Badgers to record double-digit points, finishing with 14 points and three rebounds in the loss. Noah LaPierre (Sudbury, Ont.) came off the bench to record nine points in defeat. The pair of TJ Lall (Cambridge, Ont.) and Munis Tutu (Windsor, Ont.) led the way for the Ravens, with the former finishing with a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds and the latter adding 16 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.

November 23, 2018 | Brock 46 Carleton 86