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Valparaiso’s OT buzzer-beater ends Carleton Ravens 12-game NCAA winning streak

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Canadian Daniel Sackey Buzzer Beater Helps Valparaiso Sink Carleton Ravens In Ot
Valparaiso's Daniel Sackey sinks Carleton Ravens with OT Buzzer Beater - Photo: Edilson J. Silva

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.

Canadian Point Guard Daniel Sackey Game Winner Over Carleton Ravens
Canadian point guard Daniel Sackey celebrates after game-winner over Carleton Ravens – Photo: Edilson J. Silva

“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

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“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.

Valparaiso Basketball Head Coach Matt Lottich In The Huddle Against Canadian Basketball Powerhouse Carleton Ravens
Valparaiso Basketball Head Coach Matt Lottich in the huddle against Canadian basketball powerhouse Carleton Ravens – Photo: Edilson J. Silva/BasketballBuzz

“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.

Javon Freeman Liberty Valparaiso Basketball Star Player Against Canadian Basketball Powerhouse Carleton Ravens
Valparaiso’s Javon Freeman-Liberty takes on Carleton Ravens – Photo: Edilson J. Silva/BasketballBuzz

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

Taffe Charles Head Coach Of Carleton Ravens Mens Basketball Team
Taffe Charles new head coach of Carleton Ravens Men’s basketball team – Photo: Edilson J. Silva/BasketballBuzz

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.

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Elie Karojo Carleton Ravens Basketball Freshman Against Ncaas Valparaiso Crusaders
#15 Carleton Ravens freshman Elie Karojo in action against Valparaiso Crusaders – Photo: Edilson J. Silva/BasketballBuzz

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

Mileek Mcmillan Helps Valparaiso Crusaders Basketball Out Rebound Marcus Anderson Carleton Ravens
Valparaiso Crusaders basketball Mileek McMillan snatches a rebound from Carleton’s Marcus Anderson – Photo: Edilson J. Silva/BasketballBuzz

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

Valparaiso Ben Krikke Battles Carleton Ravens Ivan Cucak
Valparaiso’s Ben Krikke battles Carleton Ravens Ivan Cucak – Photo: Edilson J. Silva/BasketballBuzz

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

Former Head Coach Dave Smart Sitting At End Of Carleton Ravens Bench Basketballbuzz
Former Head Coach Dave Smart sitting at end of Carleton Ravens bench – Photo: Edilson J. Silva/BasketballBuzz

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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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 one of his worst games 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.

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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 second-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).

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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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