Ravens News

WBB: Traer’s prayer sends Regina into a frenzy as Carleton knocks off McGill to advance to the national championship

Written by Andrew Savory, Carleton Sports Information

Photo by Arthur Images

REGINA, SK – It’s been said that one of the best skills an athlete can have is a short-term memory. In the case of the Carleton Ravens, the memory of last year’s U Sports Final 8 semifinals loss against the McGill Martlets still lingers. But not as a burden, rather, a motivating pillar that they’ve been striving to overcome this entire season.

“I honestly watched the game probably a hundred times. I couldn’t live that one down. It was a terrible feeling and we didn’t want to feel it again,” said center Heather Lindsay (Ottawa, ON).

Today, that goal was achieved as the Ravens defeated the Marlets 46-44 to book their ticket to the U SPORTS finals on Sunday evening.

“We just had to stay focused and we didn’t get the tempo that we wanted to get to. I did know that they didn’t score the ball that well, but the averages are the averages. A lot of these girls, they didn’t give up. It’s a 40-minute game and that’s why we got to where we are,” head coach Taffe Charles said.

“Gilmore’s down, Jenjen’s swelling up. It’d be easy for us to quit, but this is just very symbolic. We’ve done it the hard way all year. Again, it’s another hard victory and we get the opportunity to play a host team, so we’re just proud to get that opportunity.”

BOX SCORE
FINAL 8 SCHEDULE

Fifth-year guard Catherine Traer (Chelsea, QC) was one of many Ravens to put on a heroic performance in the Ravens’ hardest-fought game of the year. With 14 seconds left to play, Traer received a handoff from point guard Jenjen Abella (Hamilton, ON) at the top of the three-point arc. Traer eyed the game clock as it ticked down. With five seconds left, Traer made her move, driving on her defender and thrusting a one-handed floater into the air from the free throw line extended. The building went silent for a moment, before exploding into shouts and cheers as the ball fell through the twine and Traer was engulfed by her teammates at half-court. A second and a half remained on the clock for McGill to even the score, but the Martlets were unable to answer Traer’s game-winning dagger.

“I got the ball and I thought you know what, there’s no pressure, it’s either that or overtime. I just had that feeling that we were going to win,” Traer said.

Traer finished the game with 10 points, none more important than the game sealing two-pointer that sends the Ravens to the national championship tomorrow. Traer also grabbed five rebounds, three steals and blocked a shot in 34 minutes of action.

“This is nationals, this is it. We all know that these might be the last games of our career. Some will go on and play afterwards, but we want to finish off on a high note and finish off with a national championship,” Traer added.

GAME FLOW:

The Ravens faced a daunting task in McGill, who arrived at U Sports nationals fresh off a Quebec provincial championship. A three-pointer by Marie-Love Michel helped the Martlets race out to a quick 7-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes of the game. Forward Elizabeth Leblanc (London, ON) answered the early run with a spinning layup in traffic over the long arms of McGill all-star Alex Kiss-Rusk.  Kiss-Rusk responded on the next possession by completing an and-one after getting fouled on her way to the rim. Geraldine Cabillo-Abante pushed McGill’s lead 13 with a corner three-pointer. Leblanc managed to respond with a three of her own, but the Ravens entered the second quarter trailing 15-5.

Kiss-Rusk continued her stellar start to the game by opening the second frame with a hook shot. Cabillo-Abante drilled a three on the next possession to give the Martlets their biggest lead at 20-5. Charles called a timeout to help Carleton regroup. Fifth-year center Heather Lindsay (Ottawa, ON) led by example out of the timeout, corralling an offensive rebound for a put-back layup and a 15-foot baseline jumper to help the Ravens inch to within 20-9. Down 11, Traer began to take charge offensively for the Ravens and earned three consecutive trips to free throw line by driving hard to the rim. A drive by Charlotte Clayton drew a foul from third-year forward Alyssa Cerino (Stoney Creek, ON). Clayton calmly hit both free throws to keep McGill ahead 26-20 at halftime.

The Ravens came out in the second half looking to make amends for a lowly shooting performance that saw them shoot just 5-of-24 (20.8%) from field goal range through the first 20 minutes of play. Cabillo-Abante stayed hot from long-range to begin the second half, hitting her third three-pointer of the game at the 7:05 mark to give McGill a 31-22 lead. But the Ravens would not go away quietly. Consecutive scores by Cerino and fifth-year Stephanie Carr (Stittsville, ON) reduced the margin to seven. With 90 seconds left in the quarter, Abella showed her composure by hitting a corner three to bring the Ravens to within five points of the Martlets. Two free throws by Cabillo-Abante set the stage for a dramatic finish in front of a wild crowd in Regina as the Martlets held on to a 42-35 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Baskets were hard to come by for both squads, but the Ravens were incessant in their determination to get back in the game. Carr stepped up to the line and showcased her poise by hitting two free throws to tie the game at 42. McGill got on the board for the first time in the fourth with 2:45 left when Michel cashed in on both of her free throw attempts to give the Martlets a slim two-point lead. But a quick entry pass by Abella to Leblanc knotted the score once more. Each team put forth a masterclass of a defensive performance, so it was only fitting that the game was decided on the final possession. After receiving the ball from Abella at the top of the three-point line, Traer heaved a floater from the free throw line that rattled in off the backboard to seal the game as a 46-44 victory for Carleton.

“I wouldn’t say on this team there’s one leader. There’s 13 leaders and 13 strong, intelligent and brave, powerful women. All year we’ve battled together when times are tough and our coaches are tough, we do it together and we fight together,” Traer said.

“There’s not one person that shines on this team and I think that’s what makes us so powerful. You can’t just stop one person, you got to stop a bunch of us because everyone can score, everyone’s a threat and in the end we all want it just as much.”

The Ravens will take on the Saskatchewan Huskies in the gold medal game on Sunday, March 11 with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m. ET. Carleton will be playing in its first national championship game, while the Huskies make an appearance in the final for the second time in three years after capturing the 2016 national title.

The national championship between Carleton and Saskatchewan can be seen on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet NOW (free depending your TV package) beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Sportsnet is the exclusive official broadcaster of the U SPORTS Final 8. Please note that the game will not be accessible on U SPORTS Live.

KEY GAME STATS:

  • Down but not out: The Ravens trailed the Martlets for 39 minutes and 58 and a half seconds of their semifinal tilt against McGill, but showed their character by taking the lead in the game’s climactic final moments.
  • Two points the hard way: Carleton struggled from field goal range over the course of the entire game, but managed to take 16 more free throws than McGill thanks to their aggressive approach off the dribble. The Ravens had one of their best free throw shooting performances of the season by converting on 20-of-25 (80%) from the charity stripe.
  • Buckle down: The Ravens personified the notion of “defence wins championships” by forcing the Martlets to commit 23 turnovers, which Carleton turned into 16 much-needed points.

RAVENS PLAYER OF THE GAME
#11 Catherine Traer – Guard – 5th year – Chelsea, QC

UP NEXT:
Carleton vs. Saskatchewan
Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport (CKHS) – Regina, SK
Sunday March 11, 2018 – 7:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. MDT

PHOTOGRAPHS BY ARTHUR IMAGES: