CIS Final 8: University of Ottawa, Carleton to meet in final
Gee-Gees advance after defeating Vikes
It will be an all Ottawa final in the CIS Men's Basketball Final 8 championship game.
Sunday's gold medal game will feature the defending champion Carleton University Ravens against the No. 1 seed University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.
The Gee-Gees advanced to the final after defeating the fourth seeded University of Victoria Vikes 78-70.
This will be the Gee-Gees first ever trip to the final, while the Ravens will be looking for its tenth national championship and fourth in a row.
The Ravens advanced to the final after defeating the No. 3 seed University of Alberta Golden Bears 79-55.
The Ravens only loss in league play this year came at the hands of the Gee-Gees in the Ontario University Final, while Ottawa's only two losses came at the hands of the Ravens.
"We have to look at what we did well (in the OUA Final) and focus on that," said Ottawa head coach James Derouin. "We'll focus on our own strengths and the things we did well.
"We got some transition against them, we were able to do some things defensively and most importantly we just played loose. We played our own game against them."
While it was just one win, fourth-year veteran Terry Thomas says the Gee-Gees victory over Carleton will play a huge factor psychologically.
"It's good to get that monkey off our back," said Thomas. "It's been haunting us for a bit. We want to prove that last week wasn't just a fluke and we've been preparing for this all season."
The Gee-Gees took the lead in the opening minutes of the game against Victoria and never relinquished it even though it was close at times.
The Gee-Gees led 41-29 at the half, but Victoria closed the gap to five by the end of the third quarter and even made it a two-point game, 55-53, early in the fourth.
"More than what I like, but no more than I expected," said Derouin in reacting to how close things got. "They're fantastic defensively. We took 19 three's. I can't remember the last time we took under 20 three's. That's just a testament that we weren't getting any open looks."
Ottawa was able to get some breathing room as they scored eight unanswered points in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the difference in the end.
The Gee-Gees were led by Johnny Berhanemeskel's 24 points, while Terrell Evans and Chris McLaughlin had 19 each for Victoria.
The Gee-Gees admit Sunday's gold medal game is the match they've been focusing on since the start of the season.
Ottawa lost to Lakehead in last year's semifinal and believes it left a bitter taste.
"Our guys remembered that feeling and we didn't want to miss that opportunity again," said Thomas. "You don't know how many times you're going to get a chance like this again."
Ravens take over
The second seeded Ravens outplayed the Golden Bears in every area of the game.
Alberta was able to keep things close early on, trailing by just four, 29-25, at the half. But then the Ravens took over, going on an 18-1 run in the third quarter. In the end Carleton outscored Alberta 23-4 in the third.
"Part of it was offensively we were a little calmer and we did some better things so we didn't give up any breakouts," said Ravens coach Dave Smart. "We got to play five-on-five defensively."
It was clear the Ravens weren't playing their best game through the first half, but Smart reminded his players at halftime to keep things simple and return to the fundamentals.
"It's all about defense," said Tyson Hinz. "If we can defend, it gives us the best chance to win every game and that was the key point to this game."
The Ravens held Alberta veteran Jordan Baker to just nine points, all of which came in the fourth quarter. Baker got into foul trouble early and seemed to play a little tentatively at times which worked in the Ravens favour.
"We tried to gang up on him and he still managed to find open guys and still got guys shots," said Smart. "It gets tough when guys aren't making shots and he feels like he has to take over."
Hinz, a fifth-year forward, looks at the final as just another game to prepare for.
"It's going to be a war (Sunday), we know that," said Hinz. "We just have to keep fighting, keep battling all 40 minutes and have the best chance to win.
"If we win tomorrow it's all going to be defense. You can't rely on your offense."
The Ravens were led by brothers Thomas and Philip Scrubb who combined for 43 points. Hinz added 13. Joel Friesen led Alberta with 15 points.
In the first consolation game the seventh-seeded McMaster University Marauders beat the No. 6 Saint Mary's University Huskies 98-71.
Leon Alexander the Marauders with 23 points, while Theon Reefer led the Huskies with 17.
In the other consolation game the eighth-seeded University of Saskatchewan Huskies beat the No. 5 McGill Redmen 75-59.
The Huskies were victorious largely due to a dominant first quarter where they outscored the Redmen by a convincing 27-8 margin.
Huskies fourth-year all-Canadian guard Stephon Lamar scored a game-high 25 points on eight of 18 shooting from the field. Regis Ivaniukas led the Redmen with 17.
Victoria will take on Alberta for the bronze medal earlier in the day Sunday.