Written by Griffin Porter
Photo by Valerie Wutti
OTTAWA, Ontario – The Carleton Ravens were able to ride the raucous energy of a sold-out crowd at the Ravens’ Nest to an intense victory over the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees in the most entertaining game of the season, as the home side triumphed over their arch-rivals 69-65. The tight win improved the #1 ranked Ravens to 11-0 on the regular season heading into the winter break.
Carleton was able to overcome a stiff challenge from a very strong Gee-Gees team on the backs of their defence, as neither team was really able to get their high flying offences going in this one. The Ravens came into Wednesday’s game scoring the most points per game and allowing the least points per game in Ontario, while Ottawa was 2nd in both categories, setting up a true heavyweight clash that lived up to its billing. Carleton, presented with the challenge of slowing down star Gee-Gees guard Calvin Epistola, instead took away his supporting cast and was able to score just enough to squeeze out the win. Epistola scored 30 points on the evening, but shot just 10-24 from the field and committed 6 turnovers, while the rest of the Gee-Gees combined for just 35 points on 10-34 shooting. The Ravens relied on 5th year guard Munis Tutu to shoulder the offensive load in this one, as the star scored 23 points on just 10 field goal attempts. Carleton also got 11 points and 7 rebounds from fellow 5th year guard Yasiin Joseph, as well as 14 points from emerging 1st year Lloyd Pandi.
Carleton struggled offensively in the first half of the game, especially in the 2nd quarter. They were able to score 20 points in the 1st period, in large part thanks to 13 points combined from Tutu and Joseph. The offence stalled in the 2nd, however, as the Ravens scored just 9 points and went into halftime trailing 33-29, the first time all season that they had been losing at the midway point. Carleton was able to come out of the half with a vengeance, though, going on a 14-4 run to start the 3rd quarter and reclaiming the lead. The two teams battled back and forth from that point forward, as Ottawa refused to let Carleton pull away, before the clock ran out on the Gee-Gees and the Ravens came away with their 11th straight victory to start the year.
Asked after the game about the 3rd quarter explosion that saved the win, head coach Taffe Charles pointed out that “We didn’t get the tempo of the game the way we wanted to… I think when we play with a lot of tempo and a lot of pace, we’re tough to stop… I feel like in the first and second quarter we couldn’t get consistent stops and get the pace going that we need to get to”. The sentiment was echoed by Tutu, who said, “We thought we were playing too slow in the first half and that’s why we weren’t scoring as much, so we came out in the second half wanting to be aggressive and play a lot faster, and it worked in the third quarter.”
Both coach and player would also tell you that they are not at all satisfied with Wednesday night’s win. Tutu remarked after the game that “we’re going to get every team’s best shot… we knew it was going to be a battle, and we knew the only way we were going to win this game was defensively. We didn’t live up to the standards defensively that we wanted to, but we were able to pull out the win”. Charles concurred, saying “They played like a team that wanted to beat the number one team, and we played like a team that don’t understand the responsibilities of being the number one team”. The Ravens will have more than a month before their next game, and will no doubt be preparing to face every team’s best shot for the rest of the season.