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.
Led 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 defeated the Bearcats 86-67, clinching their first win of the 2018-19 season and their first over Cincinnati since both teams started exchanging pleasantries back in 2008.
Taking the floor after earning a bronze medal at the 2018 U Sports Final 8 and snapping their seven-year stranglehold of the WP McGee trophy as Canada’s best university team, the Ravens looked sharp and active early on. They fought off a rebounding onslaught in the first quarter (11-4) and broke open a 20-20 tie in the first quarter 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 by posting 26 points in 26 minutes. He had a near-perfect 13-of-15 stat-line from the floor. The 6’9″ Ekiyor outshone 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,” discussed Ekiyor. “I think our guards did a lot to get in the paint and played really well. Defensively, we have to keep getting better.”
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 halftime lead.
“We knew they were going to be switching a lot, so we were either going to go high-low or 1-4. If I got a big on me, I just had to penetrate, try to get dish-offs, and make good plays and shots. We did a good job executing, and it shows on the scoreboard,” kindly spoke Munis during the 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 have been working in the weight room and all of those leg workouts – it shows on that dunk attempt. I wish I could have gotten 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. He notched 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-paced 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 a seven-game winning streak over NCAA Division One teams, their longest in the program’s history. They have only lost one game against NCAA teams in their last twelve outings – earning big wins over Alabama, Vanderbilt, Providence, Cincinnati, and more.
Their 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 points back in 2014. Their largest beat-down was a 51-point drumming of Morgan State Bears, with Arkansas Pine-Bluff catching a 43-point loss also coming in 2016.
The Ravens played without the services of Isaiah Osborne, a late season impact recruit who returned to Canada after a stint with the UTEP Miners. Osborne, a native of Windsor, Ontario, played one season of USPORTS basketball before being recruited by the Miners in a controversial manner.
The 6’5 guard sat out a year and averaged 9.4 points per game and 3.7 assists in 29 of 31 games, earning 19 starts. Osborne is expected to be available for the 2018 House Laughton tournament in October 2018.
Other noticeable absences included OUA conference first-team guard Yasiin Joseph (14 PPG), who was seen on the bench wearing a medical walking boot. Also absent was guard Emmanuel Owootoah, who did not dress for the game. Troy Reid Knight, yet another Division One transfer, also did not dress.
With key additional pieces still missing and a mindset of “trusting their coach” and “coming out hungry every game,” Carleton looks poised to return to the top of the podium. They have a well-balanced veteran roster that could once again dominate both USA and Canadian teams.