Written by Carleton Sports Information
Photo by Queen's University
KINGSTON, ON — For the first time in program history, the Carleton Ravens are OUA Critelli Cup champions.
The Ravens continued their magical ride through the 2016-17 season by putting an exclamation point on their record-setting campaign with a 49-41 championship game victory over the Queen’s Gaels on Saturday at the ARC.
Carleton conquered the conference after taking out U SPORTS No.1 McMaster in Friday’s semifinal before stunning the OUA’s top-seeded Gaels on their home floor to win the title.
“It’s been a long time coming for this program,” said Carleton bench-boss Taffe Charles. “We work hard and I thought this team deserved it, we did a lot of great things this year and overcame a lot of adversity. We’re just pleased to win in an absolute hostile environment, defense can win championships and it doesn’t fail you especially when things are tight.”
OUA First-Team All-Star Heather Lindsay (Ottawa, ON), who was named the gold medal game MVP, finished the evening with a game-high 15 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.
“It was a big statement win for our program,” said Lindsay. “We go out there, we see a target and we just try and beat it. That was our goal on the year and we did it for our coach.”
In one of the lowest scoring games in the history of the Critelli Cup championship, defence played a huge part in the Ravens’ victory. While Carleton didn’t put up big numbers offensively, the Ravens’ nation-leading defence shut down the conference’s second-ranked offence by limiting the Gaels to only 41 points – Queen’s lowest output of the entire season (regular season and playoffs combined).
First-quarter action saw Queen’s jump out to a 9-4 advantage before the Ravens made a late run to take a 12-11 lead after ten minutes of play. Carleton had its most prolific quarter in the second, as the Ravens – led by Lindsay’s five points – shot 42.9% (6-14 FG) in the frame to go ahead 26-21 at the break.
The Gaels began the second half with purpose, closing the the deficit to one point, but Carleton replied with a pivotal 10-0 run capped with a Jenjen Abella (Hamilton, ON) three-pointer to give the Ravens a 36-25 upperhand with 02:37 remaining in the third. Andrea Priamo of Queen’s cut into Carleton’s 11-point cushion late in the quarter, but the Ravens owned a 36-28 edge heading into the the final period.
With the finish line in sight, the Ravens continued to maintain their double-digit gap until the rowdy home crowd inspired the Gaels for final push down the stretch. Emily Hazlett and Marianne Alarie scored on back-to-back Queen’s possessions, trimming the margin to five points with two minutes to play. A series of misses by the Gaels put the ball back in Carleton’s hands, where Heather Lindsay iced the game with a clutch 12-foot jumper late in regulation.
Queen’s hit one more triple of make things interesting in the final seconds, but the Ravens closed out the game to end their championship drought.
Despite being outrebounded by the Gaels, 61-47, Carleton came up with nine blocks, and limited Queen’s to only four second-chance points.
Forward Catherine Traer (Chelsea, QC) chipped in with nine points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two assists, and Cynthia Dupont (Waterville, QC) added eight points and three rebounds in 19 minutes of playing time.
The Gaels were led by Emily Hazlett’s 14 points followed by Marianne Alarie with 12.
With the Critelli Cup in possession, Carleton still has one more hill to climb at the U SPORTS Women’s Final 8 hosted by the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia next week. With their tickets punched to nationals, the Ravens will await their tournament seeding and quarterfinal opponent in an announcement to be made by U SPORTS on the morning of Monday, March 6.
Carleton will make just its third U SPORTS Women’s Final 8 appearance in program history following previous trips to nationals in 2011 (Windsor) and 2013 (Regina, SK). While the national play-in format has changed over the past few years, Carleton holds a 0-4 record at the past two events. With 21 wins in a row, the Ravens will hold high expectations heading west in search of the program’s first national title.
RAVENS PLAYER OF THE GAME:
#22 Heather Lindsay – Forward – 4th year – Ottawa, ON
U SPORTS Women’s Final 8 Championship – Quarterfinals
Carleton vs. TBD
Thursday, March 9, 2017 – Time TBD
CARSA Performance Gym at University of Victoria – Victoria, BC
U SPORTS Women’s Final 8 Championship
PHOTOGRAPHS BY QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY: