By Jackson Starr (Photos: Vaughan Merchant)
Sydney, NS. - It was a historic finish for the Ravens women's basketball team, as they defeated the Queen’s Gaels 71-59 to win the 2023 national championship.
It was a high-energy, fast-paced battle right from the beginning as both teams played with great flow. The Ravens jumped out to an early 8-3 start, but the Gaels settled in and answered back to tie the game. Kali Pocrnic (Oakville, Ont.) did a good job offensively distributing the ball and supporting the offence while Carleton dispersed the offence well overall. Queen’s was really strong from three, shooting 4-for-7 from beyond the arc in the first. After a highly offensive opening quarter, Queens held a slim 16-14 lead.
The Ravens struggled from the field early in the second, while Queen’s was able to open up the quarter on an 8-2 run. The Ravens settled in though and made some large buckets to cut into the lead. Jacqueline Urban (Ancaster, Ont.) and Kyana-Jade Poulin (Brossard, Que.) each made large shots late in the quarter, helping Carleton stay close. Queen’s was carried by Laura Donovan who impressed with 14 points in the first half. Despite the Gaels outshooting the Ravens considerably from the three-point line, Carleton only trailed by five, 31-26 at the half.
The Ravens went on a 6-1 run out of the break to tie the game. Dorcas Buisa (Gatineau, Que.) did a great job crashing the lanes hard, picking up points and helping the Ravens back into it. The Ravens also tightened up on defence and forced turnovers. After some back-and-forth action between the two teams, Carleton was able to separate with Emma Keiskamp (Merrickville, Ont.) and Teresa Donato (Ottawa, Ont.) making huge shots. Donato picked up nine third-quarter points to lead the Ravens. Carleton led by eight after three quarters, holding a 46-38 lead.
Carleton did a nice job in the fourth at managing its lead. Donato made some massive shots for the Ravens, and Pocrnic picked up her game in the fourth as well, allowing the Ravens to open up a ten-point lead late. Pocrnic had 11 fourth-quarter points, leading the Ravens. Queen’s continued making shots late but the Ravens answered to maintain the lead. Carleton made their free ones in the end and took the National Championship victory 71-59.
The win is Carleton’s second national championship in modern program history and its first since 2018. That wraps up a historic season for the Ravens women’s program, winning both the Critelli Cup and the National Championship.