Ottawa, ON – For the better part of the last 20 years, the Carleton Ravens have existed as the modern-day Goliath of U SPORTS Men’s Basketball, with 12 Wilson Cup Titles and 15 W.P McGee Trophies since 2002.
For at least one night, though, David finally got the shot he needed and sent an OUA titan, toppling to the ground.
The story almost looked like it could have been written already pre-game. Heading into the night saw a pair of teams coming off wildly different OUA East semifinal matchups. The Ravens fought a challenging and tightly contested game against the Ryerson Rams before pulling away late with a 13-0 run in the final four minutes to win 87-68. The Gaels ground out a 59-55 slugfest against uOttawa at Montpetit Hall, shooting just 3-26 from deep on the night. So on paper, this looked like an easy win, and most of the packed Carleton crowd likely had their eyes set on this coming Saturday and the opportunity to host a fourth consecutive Wilson Cup.
Things could not have looked different, though, once the game finally tipped off just after 8:00 pm at the Raven’s Nest. In the first half, seemingly the only Raven that could make a shot was Lloyd Pandi. The second-year guard, coming off a near triple-double in Saturday’s win over the Rams, put up 19 points on 9/11 shooting in the first half while the entire rest of the Raven’s roster only mustered 16 on 5/20.
For Raven’s Head Coach Taffe Charles, the Ravens were not on their game from tipoff. “They wanted it more than we did; that’s the reality they wanted it more than we did,” Charles said.
The Gaels entered halftime up 38-35, and the central orchestrator of the offence for Queen’s was unsurprisingly Cole Syllas. In the second half, the third guard had the half of his life, putting up 24 points on 5-9, shooting from deep to finish the night with 39 points.
The Ravens and the Gaels met twice during the 2021-2022 season on March 11-12, with Carleton taking both games 86-46 and 94-75. As Coach Stephan Barrie points out, it was missing Cole Syllas, which meant Queen’s was just trying to keep their heads above water. “We were in survival mode that weekend; we were just trying to do everything we could to survive.”
Carleton kept the game close thanks to 25 point performances from Alain Louis and Lloyd Pandi, with Louis picking up as Pandi stepped back after halftime. A quick 10-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter pushed the Carleton lead to its largest of the game at 70-62 with seven minutes to play. The Gaels outscored the Ravens 18-6 over the next four minutes, though, and when the buzzer sounded, it was 86-80 Queen’s, and Carleton’s 14 season streak of playing for the OUA title was over.
In his 10th season, with a program he has helmed since 2011, Coach Barrie knows there is a lot of history to this win.
“I was just really happy for the players but also the players that have come before them since I’ve been here,” Barrie said. “My first year we were 2-20, it’s just been a slow build from a lot of hard work from a lot of guys.”
The Gaels move on to play the Brock Badgers, who took down the McMaster Marauders 88-75 in the OUA West Division Final. For Queen’s, though, as they continue on their unprecedented run, it’s just one step at a time.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously there’s some historical context to the win for us, but you know at the same time we have a game on Saturday,” Barrie said.
“We’ve just got to focus on the next thing, which is exactly how we got to this point.”
With files from Mark Colley/The Charlatan
Cover Photo: Tim Austen