Written by Taylor Prichard, Sports Information
Photo by Rich Lam
(VANCOUVER, BC) — Carleton fourth-year forward Ryan Ejim (Toronto, ON) came up with his best performance of the season to help guide the Ravens to a 91-75 victory over the resilient Thompson Rivers Wolfpack in the CIS Final 8 quarter-final. The Ravens took more than three quarters to pull away from the Wolfpack, as the Canada West silver medallist simply would not back down. Ejim shot 11-for-14 from the floor to finish with 26 points and 14 rebounds, his best statistical numbers as a member of the team.
“Kaza got me going with some easy buckets today,” said Ejim, who punished the Wolfpack to achieve his Carleton career-high in points and rebounds. “I knew once I got a few scores and some rebounds early on, I was able to get into the rhythm of running up and down the floor.”
Ejim credited his performance to some good guidance he received from a pair of former Ravens.
“I got some advice from the Scrubb brothers (Phil and Tommy) and they told me to just enjoy the moment and enjoy Nationals. There can be a lot of stress, but at the end of the day, we have to enjoy playing the game that we love (basketball),” explained Ejim, who achieved his third double-double of the season.
The Ravens and Wolfpack got off to flying starts in the tournament’s opening game. Tajinder Lall (Cambridge, ON) found his groove early in the contest, scoring 9 of his career-high 15 points in the first quarter. The Ravens went 5-for-12 from beyond the arc in the early going, giving the five-time defending champs a 29-23 lead after one.
The fast pace of first quarter start did not continue into the second period, but the match-up remained interesting thanks to some flash from the guards. Wolfpack senior Reese Pibrilsky had one of the highlights of the game with a behind the back dish to his teammate Gerard Gore who finished the play with the hoop and the harm.
Kaza Kajami-Keane (Toronto, ON) was a catalyst in getting his team involved early and often. While the fourth-year guard struggled to find his shot, he made up for it in a big way by coming up with 6 first-half assists against the ‘Pack. He would finish with a game-high 9 dimes.
“Kaza was doing a good job of getting the ball into the paint, and when he does that, Ryan’s quickness and athleticism really helps,” said Carleton interim head coach Rob Smart. “When we get the ball into the paint, Ryan is going to look good.”
The Ravens would take a slight 38-33 advantage into the intermission following a low-scoring 10-9 quarter for TRU.
Thompson Rivers’ fifth-year forward Josh Wolfram scored two quick baskets to start the third and a three-pointer from Volodymyr Iegorov put the Wolfpack ahead 43-42. Connor Wood (Guelph, ON) managed to hit back-to-back triples to help the No.2 seeded Ravens get back in the driver’s seat in a game that featured ten lead changes. A Marcus Anderson (Brampton, ON) steal and full-court finish gave Carleton a 65-60 upper hand.
In the fourth, Carleton would finally pull away as Gavin Resch‘s (Ottawa, ON) 3-pointer lifted the Ravens to a 70-60, ten-point lead. Guillaume Payen Boucard (Montreal, QC) made a major contribution down the stretch as he tallied 7 points and 6 rebounds in the final frame. The fifth-year forward would end the contest with 15 points and 13 rebounds, recording the Ravens’ second individual double-double of the game.
Fourth-year guard Connor Wood, who nailed five three-point shots against the Thompson Rivers, finished with 18 points and 7 boards.
The Wolfpack remained competitive, but just came up short in the end. Gerard Gore led the team with 22 points, while Josh Wolfram finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. TRU’s Volodymyr Iegorov capped a fine performance with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“They have one of the most talented guys in the country in (Josh) Wolfram and they are well coached,” said coach Smart following the Ravens’ fourteenth straight quarter-final victory at the CIS Championships. “They were going to have a solid game plan. They could beat anyone here on any given day.”
Statistically, Carleton heavily outrebounded TRU, 54-37, and capitalized with 28 second-chance points compared to only 4 points for the Wolfpack. The Ravens also converted Thompson Rivers’ sixteen turnovers into 24 points.
The Ravens will now move on to play in the CIS Final 8 semi-final, scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Carleton will take on the Dalhousie Tigers, who knocked off the Ravens’ arch nemesis uOttawa, 87-83, in the the day’s second quarter-final. The Tigers are making their second-straight appearance at the CIS nationals following two straight AUS conference titles.
RAVENS PLAYER OF THE GAME:
#41 Ryan Ejim – Forward – 4th year – Toronto, ON
CIS Final 8 – Carleton vs. Dalhousie – Saturday, March 19, 2016 – 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET – Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre (Vancouver, BC)