Written by Alex Kurial
Photo by Valerie Wutti
OTTAWA, Ontario – A sold out crowd at the Ravens’ Nest was left stunned as the Carleton Ravens lost their first regular season game in three years to the Ryerson Rams on Saturday night by a 78-74 final.
The showdown was a hotly anticipated rematch between the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the nation. Carleton had started 2019 off with a 76-69 win in Toronto, a game which both sides had entered with 10-0 records. The Ravens had stayed undefeated since, while the game remained Ryerson’s only loss of the season.
5th year forward Mitch Jackson connected for the first points of the game, and soon after the Ravens had back to back threes from guards Yasiin Joseph and Marcus Anderson to grab an early 8-4 lead. Ryerson quickly showed they could hang from deep as well, draining back to back threes of their own via forward Filip Vujadinovic and guard Jean-Victor Mukama. Mukama came right back after his deep ball with a more unconventional three point play, as a shooting foul on Anderson sent the 5th year veteran to the charity stripe where he sank all three shots.
The Rams then added a four point play into the mix as Myles Charvis hit his free throw after sinking a three while being knocked back by Ravens guard Munis Tutu. This capped a 13-4 run for Ryerson as they grabbed a 17-11 lead. Tutu atoned quickly however, hitting a three of his own on the next possession. 2nd year guard Isiah Osborne finished off the quarter by following up a floating field goal with a late three pointer to give Carleton a 19-17 edge after one.
Mukama continued to harass the Carleton defense in the 2nd quarter, converting an early and one sequence to see him hit double digit points with 11. The play brought Ryerson within one, but Carleton rattled off the next three field goals to force a Rams timeout. Ryerson got back within one off a Vujadinovic layup, but Carleton pushed the lead back to six when forward Eddie Ekiyor converted an and one of his own late in the quarter. The Ravens had a final two minutes to forget though, as they managed to give up a 10-0 run to end up trailing Ryerson 40-36 at the break. Mukama’s buzzer beating field goal gave him a game high 15 points in the first half.
Things didn’t get any better for the home side upon returning from the locker room, as the Rams blew out to a 13-2 run to the shock of everyone in attendance. A Carleton side not used to trailing at any point save for occasionally the opening exchanges of a game was now facing a 15 point deficit over halfway through the 3rd quarter. The Ravens brought a 17-0 record into the game for a reason though, and after an Ekiyor layup, an and one from 4th year forward TJ Lall brought the Ravens back within 10.
A major turning point took place on the next possession, when it looked as though Carleton’s momentum would be lost after Anderson fouled Ryerson guard Jayden Frederick while shooting a three. Instead of blowing the lead back open, Frederick proceeded to miss all three free throws. Lall came down and nailed a jumper, which was followed by a massive Ekiyor block that sent his team in transition and allowed Osborne to land a layup to bring Carleton within six at 53-47. With the Ravens’ Nest crowd fully reignited, Osborne next drilled a three point shot before a Lall layup brought the home side within one. Ryerson did manage the final five points of the quarter however to take a 59-54 lead into the final 10 minutes.
Carleton didn’t have to wait long into the final frame to see their comeback effort see success. In front of his hometown Ottawa crowd, Eddie Ekiyor put the team on his back and rattled off eight straight points in under three minutes to swing the advantage to the Ravens 63-59. After Ryerson stopped the bleeding with a basket by Myles Charvis, Osborne knocked back his third deep ball of the affair to put Carleton up 66-61 with under six minutes to go. Up by the same margin with four minutes left, Charvis stepped up with his third three of the night to make it a one score game. A pair of Yusuf Ali free throws with 2:42 left set up a frantic finish by tying things up at 70 apiece.
A Yasiin Joseph jumper was quickly answered by a Makuma layup to keep the scoreline even. Ekiyor continued to be the driving force of the quarter, converting a basket while being fouled by 7’2 Senegalese forward Tanor Ngom. This sent Ngom to the bench with his 5th foul, but Ekiyor was unable to convert the free throw. It was a costly miss, as with time winding down in a hostile environment Makuma stepped up and hit by far his biggest shot of the game: a three pointer to give Ryerson the lead with just 33 seconds to go.
Following a missed shot by Ekiyor, a missed free throw from Ali meant the Ravens still only trailed by two at 76-74. Out of a timeout, a broken play still saw Carleton manage to get a great look at the win as the ball made it to Joseph open in the left corner. His shot rattled the front rim however, and after grabbing the rebound Ali made sure to hit both free throws this time to ice the game away 78-74.
The regular season loss is something many players on the Ravens will be experiencing for the first time in their collegiate careers. Carleton’s last loss during the season came on Feb. 5, 2016, when they were defeated by Ottawa at Capital Hoops 78-72. Their last loss at the Ravens’ Nest came just three weeks before that on Jan. 16, again at the hands of the Gee-Gees in a tight 75-73 tilt. The Ravens went 16-3 in the regular season in 2015-16, with their only non-Ottawa loss happening to be to Ryerson 79-61 in Toronto. Their 6th straight national title in 2016 did help to ease the blow of the three losses however.
The loss likely won’t damage Carleton’s hopes at returning to the U Sports Final 8 tournament, although there is a good chance they could face another match against Ryerson in order to regain the national title. The Rams have been in the last two title games, and although they have dropped both – including the 2017 tilt to Carleton – the path to the championship has certainly led through Ryerson in recent years.
Marcus Anderson said after the game that his squad has plenty to work on going forward, whether their opponent be Ryerson or anyone else in their quest for a 14th national title. “We came out soft. There’s a lot of weak points that we need to improve on. We just have to get better,” said Anderson.
When asked what points those were, Anderson had a substantial list. “Rebounding, hitting shots when we’re wide open, and our confidence, we need to work on that,” he concluded.
Carleton will now get set for the Capital Hoops matchup against the Gee-Gees on Friday night. The Ravens have won the past two meeting of the Ottawa sides, and hold a 10-2 overall lead in the series.
Ravens Player of the Game: Eddie Ekiyor – Forward – 3rd Year
Up Next: Ottawa @ Carleton (Capital Hoops)
Friday, February 1 (8 PM)
Canadian Tire Centre – Kanata, ON