Ottawa, ON- There’s an old saying in sports that it’s hard to beat the same team multiple times in a row. Perhaps that saying holds especially true between crosstown rivals – as the Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees men’s basketball teams are.
Yet, the Ravens have done so recently. Carleton’s beaten Ottawa both times in this year’s regular season and the past five times in a row (and 13 of the past 14 meetings). They looked on the cusp of doing so again, hosting the Gee-Gees in the Wilson Cup finals. They came in on a nine game winning streak.
This time was different as the Ottawa Gee-Gees downed the Carleton Ravens 79-57.
The game started out close with guards Cole Newton and Wazir Latiff hitting threes on the opening possessions. The Ravens would take the lead as the first quarter progressed, as veterans Grant Shephard and Aiden Warnholtz scoring to make it 11-7.
However, it would not last. The Gee-Gees got hot from deep with baskets by Newton and Jacques-Melaine Guemata. The visitors would lead 18-15 after 10 minutes and their lead would grow by halftime.
After Carleton made it 19-18, Ottawa went on an 11-0 run, capped off by a three from guard Drajan Stajic. They shot the ball better from the field (38.9 per cent to 31.6 per cent) and three (50 to 20 per cent) than their opponents in the second quarter as they led 35-29.
In the third quarter, the trend continued. More Ottawa baskets – the Gee-Gees seemingly having a response for every Carleton score. The lead grew to 50-34 after a Kevin Otoo triple over halfway through the third.
While the Ravens fought back with shots by Warnholtz and Elliot Bailey, they were still starting at a 55-40 deficit with one quarter to play.
They would be staring at that deficit for the rest of the game. The Gee-Gees kept on sinking threes – and scoring inside – as the gap grew to 79-55 after another Otoo three with three and a half minutes remaining.
The two teams wouldn’t score much the rest of the way but the victory was in hand for the Gee-Gees. The scoreboard scored 79-57 as the final buzzer went.
The celebration began for the Gee-Gees on the court afterwards. It’s their first Wilson Cup title since 2014 – when they also beat the Ravens – and their third of all time.
Ottawa did so with a team effort. Five players had double digit points, including forward Guillaume Pepin with a game-high 19. Otoo had 17 while Stajic had 13, Newton had 12 and Guemata had 10.
They kept up their hot shooting throughout the game, shooting 50 per cent compared to Carleton’s 21.1 per cent. Maybe that was the key difference in another meeting between rivals and national title contenders?
The two teams were relatively close in overall field goal percentage (Ottawa’s 39.7 per cent to Carleton’s (36.9). The Ravens won the rebounding battle 40-36 with Elliot Bailey (13 boards) leading the way. Ottawa’s Josh Inkumsah led all players with 14 rebounds.
Maybe this Wilson Cup performance will be an indicator of things to come? Back in 2014, after Ottawa beat Carleton in the Wilson Cup finals, the Ravens returned the favour, beating the Gee-Gees 79-67 in the U SPORTS title game.
Maybe this year will be different for the Gee-Gees? They’ve come into multiple previous national tournaments with title hopes. They’ll come into this one as likely a top two seed (we’ll find out when the seeding is announced on Mar. 5). They might face the Ravens down the road as well.
They’ll also come into this year’s tournament on the heels of their hot shooting performance against their cross-town rivals. On a night when they proved why it’s so hard to beat a team – much less a rival – several times in a row.
Featured Image: Greg Kolz/University of Ottawa Athletics