Kingston, Ont. - The Carleton Ravens are OUA Champions following a 70-57 victory over the Queen's Gaels on Saturday night.
With the victory, the Ravens claimed the Critelli Cup for the third time in program history and the first since their national championship season in 2018.
The Ravens started well but found themselves behind after 10 minutes. The young Ravens squad faced a rowdy home crowd and strong defending from the Gaels, making it hard for them to build momentum as they settled into the big game. Carleton shot only 22.2% in the first quarter while failing to make a shot from beyond the arc.
With the first quarter jitters behind them, Carleton found their rhythm in the second and finished erasing the Gaels' lead, taking a one-point lead into the half. Despite Kali Pocrnic (Oakville, Ont.) getting into foul trouble in the second, the Ravens' guards found a rhythm as Teresa Donato scored 9 points to power the Ravens to a single-point lead.
The low scoring 28-27 opening twenty minutes played right into Carleton's hand. Pocrnic had one of her signature third quarters while Dorcas Buisa (Gatineau, Que.) was equally sharp and Carleton began to pull away from Queen's. Extending their lead to eight entering the final ten minutes, the Ravens were able to rely on their signature defence the rest of the way.
After the lead ebbed and flowed throughout the fourth, a Kyana Jade Poulin steal with just over two minutes to play in the quarter sealed the Gaels' fate. As Queen's was forced to foul the rest of the game, the Ravens took to advantage of their 29 trips to the line - where they shot over 60% - to secure the Critelli Cup.
For her efforts, Ravens' point guard Kali Pocrnic was named Critelli Cup Player of the Game. Pocrnic had 23 points and four assists for the Ravens while playing 35 minutes.
The Ravens now await the bracket announcement on Sunday for the U SPORTS Final 8.
"I'm very proud for this group, how they've come together - especially in the second half of the season. They showed a lot of toughness tonight going into a great atmosphere that was loud, with a full crowd against you, and they just stayed together."
"I think we did some very good things defensively right from the very beginning, defensively we got some good stops, we just couldn't put the ball in the basket."
"That's a first time atmosphere for most of our players to be in that game, so all though we weren't putting points on the board I thought early in the game we established ourselves defensively."
"Kali took a third foul and it wasn't ideal, but it kind of woke some people up. Teresa (Donato) came in off the bench and got some huge baskets for us turning it on offensively."
"She takes a load off when there's a lot of attention on Kali. When you have Dorcas playing aggressive like that at the offensive end of the floor - when she already brings so much to the table for us as a leader and a defender - it's exciting."