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U Sports

Carleton Ravens finally knock-off Cincinnati Bearcats

Photo: Eddie Ekiyor - Credit: Edilson J. Silva

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Ottawa, ON – It took five tries and nearly ten years but the Carleton Ravens can finally say they have defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats and Head Coach Mick Cronin.

Paced by three third-year players including the lethal penetration of guard Munis Tutu (Windsor, Ont.) and the stellar inside play of 6’9″ forward Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, Ont.) the Ravens knocked-off the Bearcats 86-67 clinching their first win of the 2018-18 season and their first over Cincinnati since both teams started exchanging pleasantries back in 2008.

Taking the floor since earning a Bronze Medal at the 2018 U Sports Final 8 and snapping their seven-year strangle hold of the WP. McGee trophy, as Canada’s best university team, the Ravens looked sharp and active early on as they fought-off a rebounding onslaught in the first quarter (11-4) to break open a 20-20 first-quarter tie by limiting the visiting Bearcats to just nine second-quarter points.

Eddie Ekiyor a former four-star recruit with the Xavier Musketeers continued to dominate NCAA division I opposition posting 26 points, in 26 minutes including a near-perfect 13-of-15 stat-line from the floor. The 6’9″ Ekiyor dominated the much bigger Bearcats scoring 12 points in the fourth-quarter on his way to game-high honors.

“It’s our first game, we just wanted to come-out and play hard and do everything we can to get the season started the right way, and it went well. I think our guards did a lot to get in the paint and played really well, defensively we got to keep getting better.” discussed Ekiyor.

Munis Tutu Carleton Ravens Vs Cincinnati Bearcats Foul Shots

Carleton Ravens Guard (13) Munis Tutu at the foul-line vs. Cincinnati Bearcats – Photo Edilson J. Silva

Munis Tutu’s 21-point, 5 assist, 1 turnover effort on 7-of-13 shooting and 5-of-7 triples against an experienced trio of Bearcats guards (Cane Broome, Keith Williams, Trevon Scott) was an eye opener. Munis Tutu did a fantastic job handling the Bearcats pressure and continuously made Cincinnati pay inside and outside regardless of who they put on him. His monstrous mid-second quarter dunk attempt over several Bearcats defenders surprised everybody in attendance and energized his team, helping Carleton rip-off a 16-5 run and take a 41-29 half-time lead.

“We knew they were going to be switching a lot so we were either going to go high-low or 1-4 and if I got a big on me, I just had to penetrate, try to get dish-offs and make good plays and good shots and we did a good job executing, and it shows on the scoreboard.” kindly spoke Munis during post game.

As for his dunk attempt, and as if dealing with his speed wasn’t already enough, apparently opponents will also have to watch-out below or end-up on a poster – “We been working in the weight room and all of those leg workouts – it shows on that dunk attempt. I wish I could’ve got it, but we got that win, that’s all I’m happy about.” added Munis

Ravens 6’6″ forward T.J Lall (Cambridge, Ont.) looked active on both ends kicking off his junior campaign in fine fashion, notching a 16-point and game-high 11 rebound double-double.

Cincinnati Bearcats Jarron Cumberland Triple Threat Versus Carleton Ravens

Cincinnati Bearcats Jarron Cumberland Triple Threat versus Carleton Ravens – Photo Edilson J. Silva

Bearcats Jarron Cumberland (12 points, 3 steals) was largely held in check for most of the game as Carleton rotated multiple players against the Bearcats highly touted guard. Keith Williams added 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and Cane Broome finished with 10 points.

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The Bearcats are a year removed from a No. 2 seed at the 2018 March Madness tournament and now drop to 1-1 in their 2018 Canadian tour with one game remaining against the McGill Redmen in Montreal.

Like many previous American teams playing under FIBA rules (24-second shot clock and 10 minute quarters), rather than the traditional slower pace 35-second shot clock, the Bearcats had a difficult time handling the pace of the game and failed to show any consistency with their outside shooting, going only 3-for-10. Carleton connected on 10-of-21 from three-pointers led by Munis five and Lall’s additional 2-of-4 shooting.

Prior to tonight’s win, the Ravens had lost four times to the Cincinnati Bearcats with three of those losses coming on the road in Ohio.

The Carleton Ravens are currently on seven-game winning streak over NCAA division one teams, their longest in the program’s history and have dropped only one game against NCAA teams in their last twelve outings – earnings big wins over Alabama, Vanderbilt, Providence, Cincinnati and more. The 19-point margin of victory ranks amongst the best against major DI teams. Carleton beat Wichita State by 25 points in 2016 and torched the Memphis Tigers by 32 back in 2014. Their largest beat-down was a 51-point drumming of Morgan State Bears and Arkansas Pine-Bluff catching a 43 points also coming in 2016.

Carleton Ravens Basketball Bench Versus Cincinnati Bearcats

Carleton Ravens Basketball Bench Versus Cincinnati Bearcats

The Ravens played without the services of Isiah Osborne, a late season impact recruit which comes back to Canada after a stint with the Utep Miners. Osborne a native of Windsor, Ontario played one season of USPORTS basketball before being snagged away the Miners in a controversial recruiting that saw the 6’5 guard sit out a year and average 9.4 points per game and 3.7 assists appearing in 29 of 31 games while earning 19 starts. Osborne should be available for the 2018 House Laughton tournament in October 2018.

Other noticeable absences included guard OUA conference first-team Guard Yasiin Joseph (14 PPG) who was seen on the bench wearing medical walking boot. Also absent was guard Emmanuel Owootoah who didn’t dress for game. Troy Reid Knight, yet another division one transfer didn’t dress as well.

With key additional pieces still missing and the mindset of “trusting their coach” and “coming out hungry every game” Carleton looks poised return to the top of the podium with a well balanced veteran roster that could very well once again run the table against both USA and Canadian teams.

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U Sports

Omar Shiddo: Soft-spoken assassin

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Omar Shiddo: Soft-spoken assassin
Omar Shiddo is Western University's leading scorer this season with 19.4 points per game. Photo: Western Mustangs

It’s around 8:30 p.m. on a frigid Wednesday in the dead of winter, and Omar Shiddo is having his worst game of the season. 

The fourth-year Western Mustangs guard, who has drawn comparisons to Damian Lillard for his clutch shooting, has just five points in the first half of a tight game against the Guelph Gryphons. 

In the second half his game marginally improves, but there are a series of missteps — layups that don’t go down, jump shots that rim out and an occasional lack of motion without the ball. 

Shiddo also gets hit with a technical foul after a physical bucket he felt should have resulted in an and-one, clapping back at two Guelph players who allegedly chirped at him during the play.

This is a far cry from the kinds of performance Shiddo is known for, and light years away from the 35-point outburst he had four days earlier in an 84-79 win over rival McMaster.

It doesn’t matter — not even remotely. 

Western clamps down on defence in the second half and several teammates make big shots. Shiddo helps neutralize Guelph guard Malcolm Glanville, who had 11 first-half points and showed signs of catching fire. 

Shiddo finishes with 12 points on 4-15 shooting, his lowest total of the year. Five other Mustang players players score in double-digits, including 27 points from sharp-shooting guard Eriq Jenkins. 

Western pulls away and cruises to a 94-73 victory that’s as ugly as it is decisive. 

Omar Shiddo: Soft-spoken assassin
Omar Shiddo knocks down a jumpshot

“That’s a win, boys!” someone shouts emphatically as the team gathers for a post-game huddle in the cavernous, mostly-empty Alumni Hall in London, Ont. — Western’s home court. 

“Guys on my team stepped up,” said Shiddo minutes later in an interview, his soft-spoken analysis tumbling out as quickly as he jukes opponents, like water over Niagara Falls.

“The second half was more of other guys doing their thing and me not having to do as much scoring, which I love to do. It’s all about team … we got a big win.” 

Shiddo is unquestionably a leader — and on most nights, the most effective offensive weapon — on a Western team loaded with potential. 

In his tenure, the Mustangs have been as good as they have been in a decade, with a legitimate chance to challenge for a berth in the U Sports Final 8 — Canada’s version of March Madness — in Ottawa.

“That’s our goal from the beginning of the year — trying to get to nationals,” said Shiddo, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., a hotbed that has produced several NBA players, including Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett.

“We think we’re a top-five team in the country,” said Shiddo. “We’ve just need to continue to play like it.” 

Western is ranked outside the Top 10 nationally, but has the second-best record in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA), four points behind the Carleton Ravens.

Omar Shiddo: Soft-spoken assassin

They’re also first in the OUA West division, with a roster that skews relatively young: Seven of the 12 players are freshmen or sophomores.

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Nikola Farkic, a 6-foot point guard from Waterloo, is team captain and Jenkins (Windsor, Ont.) is arguably its most reliable three-point threat. Veteran forward Julian Walker (Barrie, Ont.) anchors a front court with considerable promise, thanks in large part to lean, athletic second-year players Aaron Tennant (London, Ont.) and Ukasha Khan (Brampton, Ont.).

“A lot of stuff goes unnoticed on the stat sheet,” said Shiddo. “But we’ve got a full team and we’re 10 deep. Everybody plays their role. We’re not a team where it’s one guy.”

He’s right. This win over Guelph is proof enough of that. And yet in crunch time, Shiddo has a penchant for taking over games, Lillard-style, and making big shots.

It has become part of Western lore. 

When Lillard puts a team on his back and wills it to victory in the fourth quarter, fans and media call it Dame Time. When Shiddo does this, it’s #Omellytime. 

Shiddo showed hints of his #Omelly mentality early against Guelph. After Western fell behind 10-2 in the first quarter, his demeanor shifted from deferential to aggressive, pushing the ball up the floor and calmly making a mid-range jumper to cut the lead to six. 

Minutes later, he drilled a three-pointer to make it 12-7, and attacked the basket for a layup that lingered on the rim but didn’t fall. His teammates took their cue and soon Western had its first lead of the game.

At the end of the first quarter the score was 28-28. At halftime Western led 47-46, and they never looked back. 

“I’m not the rah rah type of — football type of leader,” said Shiddo. “I try to lead by example.

Omar Shiddo: Soft-spoken assassin
Omar Shiddo – Western Mustangs Soft-spoken assassin

“Say what has to be said, and other than that just lead by example. It’s not how much you say, it’s about what you say.”

In U Sports, most teams are at the mercy of a Carleton dynasty that has won 14 of the last 17 national championships.

Western is a long shot to come anywhere near the title game this season, and Carleton is favoured to win it. When the teams meet for a regular-season tilt at Alumni Hall on Jan.  31, it will likely be for the last time. 

Shiddo is nobody’s fool. He knows the odds are stacked against his team, even if he’s at his best and #Omellytime is in full effect. 

His confidence is tempered with realism, but it’s still there.

“Against a team like that we’re not going to be up by one at half — we’ll probably be down by 20,” he said. “We have to play our perfect game.” 

They will almost certainly not be perfect. They will almost certainly lose. And yet Omar Shiddo, the soft-spoken assassin, has a question for you.

“Why not shock the country,” he said, “and beat the No. 1 team?”

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U Sports

Carleton Ravens set records in 129-44, 85-point beat-down of York Lions

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Carleton Ravens set records in 129-44, 85-point beat-down of York Lions
Photo: Valerie Wutti/Blitzen Photography

The No. 1 ranked Carleton Ravens improved to 16-2 overall and 8-0 in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference action with a 129-44 — 85 point beat-down of the York Lions to set a modern-day U Sports men’s basketball record, for most points scored and the largest margin of victory in a OUA conference game.

The Ravens’ 129 points is the most points scored in a (OUA) game and the third highest scoring output in historic programs’ 58-year history. Carleton routed the Fleming Knights (CCAA/OCAA) 130-78 in non-conference win on October 3, 2009. The 85-point win is the second largest margin of victory in team’s history — including CIAU, CIS, OUA conference, non-conference and games against NCAA teams.

carleton ravens set u sports basketball records in 129 44 85 point beat down of york lions
Carleton Ravens set U Sports Basketball Records in 129 44 85 point beat down of York Lions

According to historic records, and stats guru Martin Timmerman, the Ravens’ also hold the bragging rights for the most points scored and largest margin of victory in Canadian university basketball history. The all-time mark dates back to the 1964-1965 season with the Ravens’ beating the Ottawa Gee-Gees 144-52 — a whooping 92 point victory in the old Ottawa-St. Lawrence Intercollegiate Association (IAA) conference which was part of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union (CIAU).

The OUA was formed on July 1st of 1997 in a amalgamation of the both the Ontario Universities Athletic Association (OUAA) and the Ontario Women’s Interuniversity Athletic Association (OWIAA).

The previous largest OUA margin of victory stood firmly at 81, 77 points respectively, dating back to two occasions involving the same two teams. January 15, 2011 — the Ravens pounded the now defunct Royal Military College (RMC) men’s basketball program with a 121-40 win in Kingston, Ontario. Two weeks later, on January 28, in Ottawa, the Ravens’ won by a easy 77 points, in a 101-24 cake walk victory.

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The York Lions (7-15, 1-10 OUA) never had a chance — trailing 32-7 after the first 10 minutes and down 64-21 at half-time. The Lions allowed the Ravens’ to outscored them 35-15 in the third-quarter and were limited to just 9 points in the final 10 minutes — while giving-up an another 35-point-quarter.

Stanley Mayambo 17 points, 4 rebounds paced seven Ravens’ players in double-figures. Lloyd Pandi added 14 points, 2 rebounds. Aiden Warnholtz played a game-high 28 minutes off the bench and contributed with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. All of Carleton’s players scored at least five points and attempted at least five shots with only one bench player logging less then 10 minutes of playing time. None of the Carleton’s starting five logged more than 19 minutes of action.

Carleton knocked down 45-of-77 (58.4%) field-goals, made 15-of-32 (46.5%) three-pointers and connected on a healthy 24-30 (80%) from free-throws — while limiting the Lions to just 14-of-62 (22.6%), 4-of-20% (20%) from downtown and 12-of-23 (52%) free-throws.

Carleton, currently on a four-game home stretch will take on the Nipissing Lakers before closing out the first semester with a highly anticipated showdown against nationally ranked and cross-town rival Ottawa Gee-Gees.

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