Ottawa, ON – There might have never been a game more set up to be a trap game for the Carleton Ravens than Sunday afternoon.
The Ravens entered the day having travelled back home for their second game of the weekend after playing in Brock on Friday. One of the two remaining winless teams in the province was there to greet them, the Algoma Thunderbirds, and to top it off; it was the last day of the fall athletic semester.
It had all the makings of a trap game, but yet, when the final buzzer sounded at the Ravens’ Nest, the score read 88-41 for Carleton, a blowout for the Ravens, and after a frustrating loss to the Badgers on Friday, a definite opportunity for growth heading into the winter break.
“Because we had lost Friday, there was some anger, and our girls, you could tell in shootaround this morning they were out to redeem themselves.” Ravens head coach Dani Sinclair said.
\The end of the semester means the opportunity to mix the offence reps around, and the Ravens took that opportunity to heart. The normal beating heart of the Ravens’ offence, after Kali Pocrnic hit a three to open the scoring, the third-year guard made just two more field goal attempts, finishing with five points in a season-low 15 minutes on the court.
It was veteran guard Oceane Kounkou leading the Ravens with five points in the first quarter as Carleton pulled out a 19-9 lead after shooting just 42% from the field in the first.
Into the second the Ravens offence continued to find a rhythm away from Pocrnic slowly but it did not matter as the Algoma offence collapsed. A single Kali Read three-point shot was the only field goal that found the bottom of the net for the Thunderbirds, who went 1-11 in the second quarter and saw a 10 point Carleton lead get stretched to 24 as they went into the break, down 40-16.
Across the afternoon on the defensive side of the floor, the Ravens picked the Thunderbirds’ offence apart. Bethany Balaktsis finished with a game-high 16 points for Algoma but needed 15 shots to get there as the Ravens held Algoma to 25.9% from the field and 20.7% from three-point range.
“We were pretty at not letting them do what they want to do and get into the paint and get open looks,” Sinclair said.
The third quarter saw a trio of first-years step up for Carleton as Florence Fortin, Kyana Jade-Poulin and Jacqueline Urban combined for 13 points to push the Ravens’ lead up to 58-22 heading into the fourth.
The Ravens have seen a lot of contributions from their younger players this season, but their coach still knows the importance of veterans stepping up in the winter.
“We’re starting two freshmen, and we have two others coming off the bench playing significant minutes, but the way this works, I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s tough down the stretch when you’re relying on first-year players,” Sinclair said.
“Although they are going to give us a lot and continue to give us a lot, we need more consistent play from our veterans.”
Oceane Kounkou was the team’s strongest veteran on the afternoon as she scored eleven points on 50% shooting with a pair of threes.
In the fourth quarter, the game was a foregone conclusion. The Thunderbirds, already having travelled to play the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Friday, faded with Carleton hanging 30 points on Algoma in the fourth quarter to walk away with the 88-41 win.
The Ravens walked away with the relatively easy win on Sunday but simultaneously in a game that, by all accounts, they were supposed to win. The loss to Brock on Friday night stings more for the Ravens, and although the afternoon provided a bounce back, it didn’t mask where the Ravens needed to move forward.
“We need to get better over the next month; when you look at scores across the country, there’s probably a number of teams that could beat anybody on any given day,” Sinclair said.
“If we can get better over the break, we have a chance to be in that top group, and if we don’t, we won’t.”