OTTAWA - The Carleton Ravens men's basketball team stood tall on Saturday night beating the visiting Queen's Gaels 93-89.
The Gaels entered Saturday's matchup having beat the Gee-Gees at Mont Petit on Friday while the Ravens hoped to bounce back after a loss to Ontario Tech. Carleton showed that resilience right away finding a rhythm from the floor and building a 25-16 first-quarter lead.
The second quarter was a showdown as Luka Syllas and the Ravens' Xavier Spencer (Calgary, Alta.) went toe-to-toe with Spencer dropping 19 points in the frame including a dynamite four-for-four from beyond the arc. With Spencer's sharpshooting, the Ravens and their rookie guard led the Gaels at the half.
Queen's worked tirelessly in the third, fighting their way back into the game and outscoring Carleton 26-19. The Gaels shot nearly 50% in the quarter as they slowly began to press the Ravens. By the end of the third, the Gaels had even taken the lead forging ahead on a three by Connor Kelly followed quickly by a buzzer-beating layup from Luka Syllas.
Trailing by one entering the final quarter the Ravens wouldn't back down. With each step away by the Gaels the Ravens would close the gap as the forwards Noah Horobetz Simpson (Winnipeg, Man.) and Augustas Brazdeikis (Oakville, Ont.) helped the Ravens keep pace through the opening three minutes.
After Marjok Okada (Edmonton, Alta.) briefly put the Ravens ahead by four, Cameron Bett went three-for-three at the line to close the gap right back up. The Gaels would look to pull away, leading by five with 3:47 to play before turnovers and fouls left their mark on the contest. Aaron Tennant would miss a pair of free throws and it seemed to rub off on the Gaels with Luka Syllas then missing his next layup. Suddenly, Wazir Latiff and the Ravens tied the game at 84 entering the final 90 seconds.
The Ravens would use two trips to the line to take a three-point lead before Augustas Brazdeikis hit a mid-range jump shot to put the hosts up by five. Bett would hit another deep three with just seven seconds to play but the Gaels could come no closer as Brazdeikis iced the game at the free throw line for the 93-89 victory.
Asked to reflect on his team's win, head coach Taffe ChaRLes looked to his team's effort. "Saturday we made some mistakes, but we played hard. We can overcome some of those mistakes because of our youth because we play so hard."
Playing hard sure helped the Ravens on Saturday, but as the team continues to focus on daily improvements it will be communication and effort that determine the success of this Ravens line-up. "If you're not communicating with your teammates it's hard to get stops, there's lots of good players in this year and that's talking and listening."
After his clutch shots down the stretch, Ravens guard Wazir Latiff focused on the process for their young room. "We just need to show the young guys what it takes to compete. It's not just going out there and playing basketball, we have to go out there and fight." For the young Ravens room finding success is a daily process. "We know every year is a different team," added Latiff, "but we know we have a lot of room for growth and we're just focused on that."
The Ravens' next challenge will come in the form of another weekend at home when they welcome Nipissing and Laurentian to the Ravens' Nest beginning on Friday night.