Nearly two years since their last encounter, the No. 1 Carleton Ravens wasted zero time reminding their Bytown rivals and No. 3 Ottawa Gee-Gees, who is the boss of their storied 60-year basketball rivalry.
Utilizing their trademark defence that has carried them to an unprecedented fifteen U Sports basketball championship banners, the two-time defending champions fought-off a slow start on their way to a well deserved 71-58 win over the previously unbeaten Gees-Gees at the Ravens Nest on Friday night.
Alain Louis (Montreal, QC) controlled the tempo and bullied his way to a double-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists to help the Ravens reclaim a hold of the 2022 Capital Hoops Classic trophy. The six-foot-one guard drilled a casual 3/4 court buzzer beater to put the cap on a decisive second-quarter that turned out to be the difference as Carleton took a 35-21 half-time lead.
As is often the case in rivalry games or when playing the Ravens, a few bad possessions, a mental lapse here, a turnover there, is all it takes to swing momentum and kick-start a game changing run.
Two quick fouls on Maxime Boursiquot a minute and a half into the game forced Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin to adjust his game plan. Boursiquot, a highly touted local Ottawa product, signed with the Gee-Gees in the off-season after a short NCAA division I stint with the Northeastern Huskies of the Colonial Athletic Association.
A stalemate, 12-11 first-quarter in favour of Carleton followed by a quick third foul on Boursiquot, allowed the Ravens to limit the Gee-Gees to just three-points in the last 6:40 minutes of the second period.
With Boursiquot stapled to the bench and Gee-Gees leading scorer Guillaume Pepin (16.6 PPG) ice-cold, Derouin turned to fifth-year senior guard Gage Sabean for offense.
The six-foot-five Port Williams, Nova Scotia native launched a career-high, twenty (20) three-pointers on his way to a game-high 23 points to keep Ottawa within striking distance.
Sabean finished the game shooting 8-of-25 (32.0%) from the floor and 6-of-20 (30.0%) from three-pointers in 36 minutes. Despite the foul trouble, Boursiquot stayed aggressive in the second-half, scoring 13 of his 18 points in the third-quarter.
Ultimately, it wasn’t enough, as Carleton countered by getting numerous paint buckets off of dribble penetration and unselfish ball movement. Biniam Ghebrekidan added 14 points, 6 rebounds and Aiden Warnholtz chipped in with 10 points and 5 rebounds to round-out the double-digit scores.
Carleton doubled-up the Gee-Gees on the boards, winning the battle in the trenches with a 40-21 edge on eleven (11) offensive rebounds. The turnover battle was evenly matched as both teams struggled to keep possession, combining for a total of 35 turnovers.
The victory maintains the Ravens (15-1, 9-0 OUA) undefeated Ontario University Association (OUA) record. The Gee-Gees (14-1, 8-1 OUA) drop their first game of the season. Carleton’s lone blemish, a surprising 82-80 non-conference loss to the Regina Cougars at the Tournoi Rouge et Or in Quebec City.
The two-year gap since their last meeting is the longest since the teams have gone without facing each other. The two teams will battle it out one more time before the extended regular season comes to a close. The Ravens will make the trip to Montpetit Hall on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022.