Written by Griffin Porter
Photo by Valerie Wutti
OTTAWA, Ontario – The Carleton Ravens were able to pull through when the chips were down on Friday night, pulling off a comeback victory against the defending national champions without one of their best players to snap a four game losing streak. The Ravens defeated the McMaster University Marauders 66-55 on the back of a very strong 2nd half performance, despite the fact that they were missing 5th year forward Alyssa Cerino and faced a deficit that grew as large as 12 points. After the game, head coach Brian Cheng said that Cerino had been forced to miss this one due to illness.
The Ravens, who have struggled with rebounding all season long, seemed as though they’d be in for an even tougher slog on the backboards without Cerino. However, thanks to their starting tandem of 1st year guards, Carleton was actually able to win the rebounding battle, which went a long way towards winning the game. Kali Pocrnic, the shortest player on the Carleton roster, had a double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and came up with several loose balls on pivotal possessions. “I know once I get those we’ll have an advantage going up the court, and we really like playing transition, so that’s a big mindset”, said Pocrnic after the game. The Ravens also got 9 points and 11 rebounds from her backcourt mate Tatyanna Burke, as well as 8 points and 8 rebounds from Emma Huff off the bench. Speaking after the game, Cheng pointed out that “we’ve been outworked on the boards all year long… it’s a testament to this team that when some of our players are injured people fill in the gaps”.
Carleton got off to a slower start than they would’ve liked Friday night, as they struggled to score from anywhere except long distance. The Ravens’ ability to make threes kept the game close early on, as Carleton went down 7-0 to start the game, but was able to make three quick shots against just one Marauder basket to tie the game at 9. From there, McMaster began to pull away again, and led by 7 going into halftime. However, Carleton was able to drastically cut down on turnovers in the 2nd half, which had been a big problem in the 1st, and was able to pull out the double digit victory. “I said at halftime, you understand we’re wearing the white uniforms and not the red ones?”, joked Cheng after the game in response to Carleton’s trouble with turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
It was an important win for a Carleton team that has faced some rough times of late. Carleton shot out to a 12-2 start to the season before they hit a rough patch that saw them lose 5 out of 6 games heading into Friday night. Facing the defending champions without their best player, the team was able to gut out a win by solving season-long issues with rebounding and drawing fouls, as the Ravens took 20 free throws in the 2nd half, and came away with a massive victory. “It shows us that we can do it”, said Pocrnic after the game. “It gives us confidence and belief that we can do it ourselves… it’s a big win for us, and it’s a good confidence booster”. Pocrnic also made sure to repeat the team motto of humble and hungry, a mentality that has been adopted by the entire Carleton basketball program with provincials now just days away, and nationals not far behind that.