Written by Sam Lee, Sports Information Assistant
Photo by Valerie Wutti
OTTAWA, ON — In their closest game of the season to date, the Carleton Ravens men’s basketball team edged out the Ryerson Rams, 82-77, for their 18th win in a row, moving one win away from a perfect regular season.
The last time these two teams met was at last year’s OUA championship game, where the Rams took the hard-fought victory. The Ravens got their revenge on Friday night against the fifth-ranked team in the nation in the Rams, who walked away from the Ravens’ Nest with just their second loss of the season.
Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, ON) was the high man for the Ravens, scoring 21 points, including two triples, to lead his team to the win.
Adika Peter-McNeilly opened up the game with a quick layup off the tip and Ryerson rushed out to a quick 11-2 lead to start the game, which no doubt came at a shock for a Ravens crowd used to seeing their team dominate from the get-go. Marcus Anderson (Brampton, ON) made the first of his two triples in the opening quarter to stop the run, and some strong play by the Ravens saw them retake the lead by the end of the first.
Down 17-15 going into the second, Ryerson opened the quarter with a triple by Myles Charvis, giving the Rams a one point lead. Joe Rocca (Sarnia, ON) immediately answered on the other end with his first triple of the night, and the Ravens regained the lead, which they kept for the remainder of the half. The Rams did not give up easy, however, and they were within four points of the Ravens throughout the entirety of the quarter, thanks to Charvis’ 8 points in the second. The Ravens walked into halftime with just a 35-32 lead, after Filip Vujadinovic ended the half with a Rams triple.
Kajami-Keane led all scorers in the half with 12 points, but the Ravens had 12 turnovers in the first two quarters and shot just 37.5% from the line, two key reasons for their unspectacular first-half performance.
Adika Peter-McNeilly immediately tied up the game to open up the third quarter, but the Ravens answered yet again, this time with a jumper by Ryan Ejim (Toronto, ON). Ammanuel Diressa of the Rams proceeded to go on a personal 8-0 run, giving the Rams the lead and control of the game for most of the third. However, a Rocca triple with under two minutes left in the third put the Ravens back up by one, and they ended the quarter up 56-55, their closest margin going into the fourth all year.
The Ravens kept the lead throughout the fourth quarter, even going up by double digits at one point. The Rams kept fighting, and five straight points for Diressa late in the fourth put the Rams within two points with just 47 seconds left in the game. Kajami-Keane iced the game the next possession with a nice move in the lane however, and the Ravens survived to claim their 18th win of the campaign.
Kajami-Keane added four boards and two assists for the Ravens, a solid performance for Carleton’s fifth-year floor general. Joe Rocca had another great game off the bench, hitting four triples en route to his 15 points. Connor Wood (Guelph, ON) and Anderson also finished in double figures for the Ravens, adding 11 and 12 points, respectively. The Ravens shot 52.5% from the field and 44% from deep throughout the game, showcasing their dynamic offence against one of the top defensive teams in the nation.
The Rams were led by guard Ammanuel Diressa who scored 26 points to lead all scorers, 12 of which came at the charity stripe. Adika Peter-McNeilly and Myles Charvis both added 14 points each for the Rams, but they were unable to overcome the depth of the Ravens squad, getting outrun in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens will play their final game of the OUA regular season tomorrow night, welcoming the University of Toronto Varsity Blues to the Ravens Nest, along with a chance to close out the 2016-17 OUA season undefeated.
RAVENS PLAYER OF THE GAME:
#41 Kaza Kajami-Keane – Guard – 5th year – Ajax, ON
Carleton vs. Toronto
Saturday, February 18, 2017 – 8 p.m.
Ravens’ Nest – Ottawa, ON
PHOTOGRAPHS BY VALERIE WUTTI: