“Survive and advance”: Ravens edge Citadins in U SPORTS quarterfinal

Halifax, NS- It came down to the final shot. The UQAM Citadins men’s basketball team – fresh off their RSEQ championship – were trailing 73-71 with eight seconds remaining. Here was their chance to advance at U SPORTS Final 8.

Just a day earlier, UQAM head coach Mario Joseph talked about his team being underdogs against Carleton in their Final 8 quarterfinal matchup. He talked about them not getting respect. Now, the underdogs were winning throughout the game. Now, they were one play away for winning. Now, perhaps they were earning their respect.

Citadins guard Bahaide Haidara had a look from three as time ticked down. It missed. Guard Kevin Civil grabbed the rebounding and threw up a last-second shot. It missed as well. The horn blew. Carleton won 73-71.


Throughout the game, Joseph said their game plan was to make Carleton’s defence move. They did so – scoring inside again and again. Taking the lead over and over again and again as the game went down to the wire. 

Yet, when it came to crunch time, the head coach talked about needing to execute things a bit better. He talked about how they were rushing things. There were missed shots, charge calls that went against them. 

“You could always look back at stuff you could have done better,” Joseph noted. 

Despite the loss, Joseph said he was proud of his team. He called it a stepping stone moment for them. It’s also one he’s not taking for granted. 

“Every time you come here…it’s not guaranteed you come back,” he said. His team reached nationals for the first time since 2010. They defeated Bishop’s in the RSEQ Finals and battled for respect. 

“Even in our conference, no one was giving us respect,” he said. 

Wazir Latiff provided 12 points for Carleton (Photo: Trevor MacMillan/Dalhousie Tigers)

For the Ravens – among the most respected programs in the country – it’s “survive and advance”, as Carleton head coach Taffe Charles called it. They are now two wins away from another national title. 

“It’s about winning at this point in time,” Charles noted. “So as much as I want to sit there and critique everything that we did wrong, at the end of the day, we just need to figure out a way to get the victory.” 

The Ravens shot only three free throws in the first three quarters (from Wazir Latiff being fouled on a three-point attempt late in the quarter). They shot 12 in the fourth. 

It’s something they’ve struggled with all year, according to Charles. “We’re trying to get people to understand when people leave their position defensively, that [we can] now take advantage of it,” he noted. 

He pointed out how point guard Aiden Warnholtz’s gotten better at this season and throughout his career. They’ve talked with him about trying to draw more fouls. 

Warnholtz did so in the fourth, getting to the line multiple times and sinking crucial free throws to both keep Carleton within striking distance and give them the lead. The fourth-year guard also took two key charges late in the game. 

He credited it to the team defence telling each other where to be on rotations. On those charges, he happened to be the one responsible for taking them. “It really comes down to the whole team being on the same page,” Warnholtz said.

Being on the same page could very well be important in the semi-finals. The Ravens’ next game is a rematch of the Wilson Cup final from last week against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Coming off the UQAM game, Charles said there are things they could have done better – getting better play from the bench and making simple plays for example. 

It can be frustrating, he admits. Yet, as the nationals come into focus, so does the bigger picture. Survive and advance. 

“Something we’ve been doing all year is find ways to find a win,” Charles said. 

Featured Image: Trevor MacMillan/U SPORTS

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