Written by Carleton Sports Information
Photo by Marc Lafleur
OTTAWA, ON — A month of Ravens men’s basketball preseason action came to a conclusion on Monday evening at the Ravens’ Nest, as Carleton completed its Can-Am Shootout schedule with an 84-69 victory over the St. Thomas Aquinas College Spartans. The win marked Carleton’s closest margin of victory over the six-game stretch, and the finale turned out to be the most competitive of the Ravens’ NCAA exhibition contests.
It was an arduous first quarter for the Ravens, as head coach Dave Smart was forced to reach far down his bench to find the right chemistry to go up against the high motor of the Spartans. Ten different Ravens found their way onto the floor, while eight managed to contribute points on the score sheet. Carleton did just enough to grab an early 22-13 lead, as senior Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, ON) settled the Ravens down throughout the quarter and delivered 4 assists in the opening ten minutes to provide the home team with a bit of breathing room.
Carleton sharpshooter Connor Wood (Guelph, ON) found his form in the second quarter as the fourth-year guard tallied 9 points (3-5 3PT-FG), while spreading the Spartans’ defence and providing some open looks for teammates.
However, St. Thomas Aquinas College managed to hang around with the six-time defending national champions, keeping the game within reach with several timely floaters in the lane. With two minutes left in the half, Spartan Justin Reyes made a clutch basket as the shot clock expired before making the defensive play of the half with a full-court sprint and block at the other end. The momentum began to swing in STAC’s favour towards the end of the frame, but the Ravens entered the break up 36-29.
The visitors continued to rattle Carleton in the third with their aggressive full-court press, one that saw the Ravens turn the ball over six times to start the second half. The Spartans went on a furious third-quarter rally, which was capped off with a go-ahead three-point field goal by STAC substitute Jonathan Lawton, making it 45-44 with just under six minutes to play.
Sophomore guard Marcus Anderson (Brampton, ON) would respond to the adversity by scoring 8 of his 14 points in the third, hitting some key shots in the closing minutes. Though the Ravens were outscored for a second straight quarter, they would take a 62-56 advantage into the final period.
The Spartans continued to press in the fourth, as Daniel Wilson finished a two-on-one fast break with a mean one-handed cram at the 9:02 mark to bring STAC within two points of Carleton.
Though quiet for most of the game, Ravens transfer guard Emmanuel Owootoah (Toronto, ON) played an important role for the home side in the game’s waning moments. Using his defensive prowess and court vision, Owootoah came up with 5 points and 2 steals to help Carleton pull away from the Spartans down the stretch.
Mitch Wood (Guelph, ON) had a solid outing with 9 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals, while Cam Smythe (Vancouver, BC) put together a good display with 7 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.
STAC’s Justin Reyes paced the Spartans with 19 points and 7 rebounds in twenty-five minutes of floor time.
Carleton will receive some time to recoup from a busy exhibition schedule. The Ravens men’s basketball team isn’t due to play another game until the start of the House-Laughton Tournament on October 14, 2016.
RAVENS PLAYER OF THE GAME:
#41 Kaza Kajami-Keane – Guard – 5th year – Ajax, ON
Friday, October 14, 2016 – 8 p.m.