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’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.
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.
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 theBearcats with three of those losses coming on the road in Ohio.
Familiar foe #Cincinnati Bearcats (4-0 vs. #Carleton Ravens 64-54 W, 2008, 87-70 W, 2010, 89-57 W, 2010 & 77-63 W, 2013) make their first trip back to Nations Capital Since September 4 2010. #NCAA #USPORTS
— BasketballBuzz (@basketballbuzz) August 6, 2018
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.
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.
Former Carleton All-Canadian Eddie Ekiyor charged sexual assault, kidnapping
Surely not the headline you and I were expecting, and the news couldn’t get any worse for former Carleton Ravens forward and two-time All-Canadian Eddie Ekiyor.
According to a report from the Ottawa Police , the 22 year-old Ekiyor is facing serious charges of sexual assault and kidnapping of a 23-year old women following an April 7th, 2019 incident that occurred in Ottawa’s west end.
“The charges come after police received a complaint from a woman regarding an incident in the Market-area and the west end of Ottawa on April 7, 2019. A male suspect met a 23 year old female victim at a downtown bar where he plied her with alcohol and drugs. He then took her to a west end address where he sexually assaulted her. Throughout the incident, the female was in and out of consciousness. Following the sex assault, the victim was put in a taxi cab which drove her home.”Source – Ottawa Police Services
Ottawa Police have charged Ekiyor with the following three charges: sexual assault, kidnapping and rare, and extremely serious occurrence of overcome resistance to commit an offence.
The news comes on the heels of the start of new season and new head coach Taffe Charles confirming Ekiyor’s departure that the former U Sports All-Canadian was leaving the national championship program to join the pro basketball ranks.
Why didn’t Ekiyor declare for the 2019 NBA Draft?
Interestingly enough, and perhaps not so coincidental is the fact that Ekiyor didn’t test the NBA draft waters by declaring himself eligible for the 2019 draft — taking advantage of the recent changes in NCAA draft rules that permits players, including U Sports athletes to go through the draft process and return to their respective school if no serious interest is garnered.
A record two U sports players (Kadre Gray – Laurentian Voyageurs, Tanor Ngom – Ryerson Rams) plus a Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) player declared — in American born Jalen Sykes (Reford, Michigan) who played for the St. Clair Saints in Windsor, Ontario.
However, there was no mention or sign of Ekiyor who had just finished dominating the 2019 U Sports Final 8 Championship which ran from March 7 to 10 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
At this point, questions and commentary started circulating about Ekiyor’s NBA aspirations — given that he joined the Ravens program with the intention of doing just that — and clearly had more upside than all of the three-players that declared and actually went through some stages of the NBA draft process.
Most early-entry NCAA basketball athletes make their NBA draft declarations around mid-to-late April, as were both the cases with Gray and Ngom.
If Ekiyor and his camp had serious intentions of going pro, why not follow the Canadian NBA hype train and throw his name in the record number of Canadians who did so? After-all the “all gain, nothing to lose” scenario would’ve only benefited Ekiyor’s game, exposure and further bring attention and recognition to the heralded Ravens program.
Timeline of events
Dave Smart shocked the Canadian basketball world by announcing his retirement on March 19, 2019, nine days after winning his record 14th national championship.
The incident in question as per the Ottawa Police occurred less than month after the National Championship on April 7th and around early May 2019 rumors started surfacing that Ekiyor was looking to leave Carleton to a chase a pro contract.
Those ramblings continued throughout the summer and recently picked-up steam when Ekiyor’s name didn’t appearing on the box-score of the Raven’s first exhibition preseason game against the University of South Florida in Laval, Quebec.
Intrigued by the mystery and lack of details by the both university and professional teams overseas I reached out to new head coach Taffe Charles via e-mail on August 9th 2019 who provided a very brief statement regarding Ekiyor’s status.
“It is my understanding that Eddie wanted to go pro and is in the midst of doing that.”Taffe Charles – Head Coach Carleton Ravens Men’s basketball program
Based on the timeline of events, it will be interesting to know if and when did the Ravens program found-out about the incident and, if it tried to distance itself from Ekiyor with the rumor that he was going pro or weather Ekiyor himself and his camp misled the university.
Ekiyor also pled guilty and was conditionally discharged of a hit and run incident of an off-duty Ottawa police officer in 2016, curtailing his NCAA aspirations.
The Ottawa native averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in three seasons with the Carleton Ravens winning two national championships, including being named second-team All-Canadian in 2018 and improving on that mark to claim first-team All-Canadian and the Most Valuable Player of the Final 8 championships in his last year (2019) with the Ravens program.
Out on bail, passport surrendered
According to Mike Arsalides, Ekiyor has been released on bail to a surety and has surrendered his Canadian passport. Further to that, Arsalides reports that “Ekiyor is no longer a member of Ravens team and “he informed the team a couple of weeks ago of his intentions of wanting to purse a professional basketball career — according to an official statement from Carleton University.
Valparaiso’s OT buzzer-beater ends Carleton Ravens 12-game NCAA winning streak
Ottawa, Ont. — It was one for the ages at the Ravens’ Nest as Canadian Daniel Sackey drilled a running one-footer at the buzzer — helping the visiting Valparaiso Crusaders sink the 14-time defending Canadian university champions Carleton Ravens 83-80 in overtime — ending their unprecedented 12-game winning streak over NCAA division one schools.
Sackey, a 6’1″ sophomore point guard from Winnipeg, Manitoba found himself with the basketball in his hands at the top of the three-point line after a wild sequence of events which included missed foul shots and two forced turnovers in the final 7 seconds of an entertaining and hard-fought August basketball battle.
Sackey finished with 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 game-winner in his home country.
“This feeling is ecstatic! Not one of my best games, but it feels good to come home and get a win” – an excited Sackey opened-up post-game and further expanded on how the Crusaders are soaking-up the experience and building their team chemistry on their second Canadian tour.
ESPN SportsCentre Top 10 Play of the Day
Valparaiso’s “Brotherhood” Approach
“Brotherhood.” That’s what we are trying to build here, last year that’s what we lacked, but this year we are trying to do it as unit, as team. No individuals, we do everything as a team.”
Valparaiso Crusaders fourth-year Head Coach Matt Lottich echoed those same sentiments about his team after the win.
“Honestly, we were here four years ago and got our butts-kicked by 20 points (77-59) with what I thought was a better team at the time — so we knew what kind of challenge Carleton presented. We have been taking this trip one day at the time and working on getting better as team each day and it obviously feels good to beat a team of Carleton’s status.
Javon Freeman-Liberty at home with Valpo
Talented sophomore guard Javon Freeman-Liberty led a full-team effort with four Crusaders in double-figures with a game-high 23 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals to beat a Carleton Ravens squad that hadn’t lost to a NCAA team on their home floor since dropping a 76-64 decision to the Towson Tigers on August 7, 2017.
The former Chicago high-school all-state standout and NCAA Missouri-Valley all-defensive and freshman team from a year-ago contemplated leaving the program during the off-season but decided to return to a team that went 15-18 overall in 2018-2019 and is expected to drastically improve in 2019-2020.
“Javon is a great guy and we are extremely excited to have him back and are working hard in developing his game and making sure that he feels apart of the team and community.” added a energized Matt Lottich.
Nick Robinson shot 5-of-6 from the floor on his way to a 14 point, 8 rebound, 2 steals, 2 blocks and Eron Gordon chipped-in with 13 points and 6 rebounds for the Crusaders who improve to 3-0 on their 2019 Canadian tour.
Valparaiso jumped to a 18-14 first-quarter lead by limiting the Ravens to just 4-of-15 shooting in the opening 10 minutes, and further extending the lead to 37-28 at half-time as they outplayed Carleton in every significant aspect of the game.
Taffe Charles – New Ravens Head Coach
Carleton Ravens new head coach Taffe Charles and his relatively new coaching staff regrouped after the break by outscoring Valparaiso 29-24 in the third-quarter — knocking down five of the Ravens eight three-pointers and putting on a better defensive rebounding effort to cut the lead to 61-57 through three-quarters.
The fast-pace action came to a halt in a low-scoring fourth-quarter with both teams combining for just 24 points. Carleton continued to battle and knotted the game at 64-64 but trailed 71-66 with 2:00 minutes remaining and managed to send the game into overtime on a late inside basket by Lloyd Pandi.
The Ravens took control of the game in overtime holding a 78-75 lead with 2:29 left to play but uncharacteristically fell-apart down the stretch, letting Valparaiso steal a winnable home outcome. Ravens sophomore guard Aiden Warnholtz stepped-up to the free-throw line and missed two crucial foul shots with the game tied at 80-80 with just under 20 seconds remaining — Carleton managed to grab the offensive rebound but were called for a push-off offensive foul — sending the Crusaders to the opposite end of the court for their own two missed foul shots.
Carleton grabbed the defensive rebound and called a timeout with 7.9 secs remaining in hopes of attempting a game-winning shot. Facing full-court pressure and attempting to inbound under their own basket Valparaiso’s Freeman-Liberty forced Carleton to turn the basketball over twice setting — up the wild and fittingly game winner from the kid from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“It’s August, we have a new coaching staff and a new group of players. We are trying to find new roles for players as well as coaches – discussed Ravens Head coach Taffe Charles after the disappointing loss.
Valparaiso out-rebounds Carleton
Valparaiso’s 54-48 out-rebounding of the Ravens was a point of emphasis post game for the Ravens head coach.
“I think they came-out and they knew who we were and we didn’t fully respect the fact that they knew who we were, and they weren’t in a panic and they obviously wanted to play harder and we didn’t match their energy and intensity. I mean when was the last time you saw a team come into our own gym and beat us up on both sides of the backboards.” – added Taffe Charles.
Carleton was paced by Munis Tutu with 18 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds and got a solid performance from freshman duo Lloyd Pandi (Ottawa, Ont.) 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and Elie Karojo (Montreal, Que.) with game-high 10 rebounds and 7 rebounds. Marcus Anderson nearly missed out on a double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds.
The Ravens were without the services TJ Lall, a 6’6″all-conference senior forward who averaged 12.5 points per game, 5.8 rebounds in his junior campaign. Starting point guard Yasiin Joseph only played 10 minutes, scoring 8 points and grabbing two rebounds as the coaching staff got a look at various new faces including last minute NCAA transfer in Ivan Cucak a third-year 6’11” junior center from Austin Peay State University.
Canadian big men on campus
Cucak (Kitchener, Ont.) played well in limited action, adding 8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 14 minutes and forced Valparariso to go big and match-up with their own Canadian 7-footer in Ben Krikke (Edmonton, AB) who finished with 4 points, 3 blocks and 2 rebounds in 14 minutes.
Valparaiso shot the ball well going 14-of-40 (35%) from downtown and harassed Carleton into a 8-of-29 (27.6%) shooting from deep — including 2-of-10 in the first-half. The Crusaders managed to win the game despite going to the free-throw line just four times and shooting 1-of-4 (25%). Carleton didn’t fair much better, connecting on 14-of-24 (58.3%) foul-shots.
Dave Smart sitting on the Ravens bench
It felt just like the good ol’days with former head coach Dave Smart opting for a seat at the back of the Ravens’ bench rather than the front. Smart called it a career after winning his untouchable 14th Canadian university basketball championship in 17 years and has take a role of basketball operations with both the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
The Ravens (1-1) beat the University of South Florida 78-69 in their preseason opener in Laval, Quebec and will look to start new winning streak against NCAA opposition when they take on the University of Albany Great Danes on Sunday August 18 at the Ravens Nest.
Valparaiso who went (2-1) in their 2015 Canadian tour will wrap-up a successful 2019 edition with another tough match-up against UQAM in Montreal.
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