Written by Griffin Porter
Photo by Valerie Wutti
OTTAWA, Ontario – The Carleton Ravens got their hands dirty and were able to get scrappy enough to carry themselves all the way to the National Championship game, as they beat the Western University Mustangs 90-63 on Saturday night. The Ravens’ win means that they will play in their 15th national championship game in the last 18 years. Their previous 14 appearances in the title game have resulted in 14 titles.
Carleton was able to combine strong field goal defence with some timely three point shooting, as they took away Western’s primary weapon, their deadly three point shooting. The Mustangs had used their accuracy from deep to complete a big comeback against the Alberta Golden Bears in the quarterfinals, but Carleton focused heavily on it and held Western to just 4-31 shooting from three point range for the game. The Ravens also leaned heavily on their deep bench in this one, as head coach Taffe Charles made substitutions early and often, taking advantage of a shorter Western bench to wear down the Mustangs as the game went on. “We go pretty deep”, said Charles after the game. “Our depth has been something that’s carried us… we’ve had injuries, we’ve been sick as well… (our depth) has been a big key for us”. Carleton’s two top scorers in this one, Isiah Osborne and Alain Louis, both came off the bench, and that contributed heavily to the 53 bench points that the Ravens finished the game with. All 12 Carleton players who entered the game finished with at least 2 points, as they put in a complete effort to advance to the national championship as a team.
While the entire Carleton roster contributed to the historic win, the Ravens were led by their key players, both in the starting lineup and off the bench. Starters Yassin Joseph and Lloyd Pandi set the tone early and often, as Pandi brought his typical effort and drive to the game, finishing with 13 points on just 8 shots, while Joseph rebounded from a shaky shooting game yesterday to put up 13 points including 3 made threes. Joseph spoke after the game as to the quick nature of the tournament, and the need to rebound from a bad game quickly, saying “It’s just a focus thing… I can’t play bad, because if we lose we lose as a team, and they need me”. Off the bench, it was Louis and Osborne who put up the numbers for Carleton, as Louis scored 15 points on just 7 shots, while Osborne put up a double double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. The 6’5” guard spent much of the game as the tallest Raven on the floor due to matchups, and spoke to his ability to fill different roles for the team, crediting his work against Pandi in practice as one of the major factors in keeping him ready to fill in a paint role for the Ravens if that’s what Charles and his staff require.
Carleton now sets their sight on their 15th national championship in the last 18 seasons, their first chance under Taffe Charles, who won a national championship as the head coach of the Carleton women’s team in 2018. The Ravens will play either the #2 seed Dalhousie Tigers or the #3 University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, but remain firm in their belief that they are a team more than capable of winning the national championship. After the display of depth and defence that was put on today, the ball certainly appears to be in their court.