Men’s basketball starts season off strong

The Carleton Ravens men’s basketball team began their quest for an eighth straight national title with two home victories over the Guelph Gryphons and the Algoma Thunderbirds.

The Ravens beat the Gryphons 96-52 on Nov. 3, but Guelph was able to keep the game close early on.

Guelph guard Rodney Wallace hit a pair of step back jumpers and Gryphons player Daniel Dooley scored a three-pointer to keep the score at 9-8 for Carleton halfway through the quarter.

Carleton went on a run to end the quarter up 26-14 as the Ravens’ guards drove the lane and found shooters. Emmanuel Owootoah made a wrap-around pass to Cam Smythe for a jumper. Soon after, Munis Tutu found TJ Lall under the basket for a layup.

Ravens point guard Yasiin Joseph led the team with 18 points and four assists. Joseph scored seven points in the first quarter with a lethal jump shot and also found success at the free throw line.

Newcomer Troy Reid-Knight, from the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s  (NCAA) Maine Black Bears, made his home debut for the Ravens with 10 points off the bench. His first basket was a three-pointer to extend the lead to 37-22 late in the second quarter.

The Ravens out-rebounded the Gryphons 36-23 and notched 21 assists to Guelph’s nine in the game.

In the second half, the Ravens’ team play continued as Joseph dished to Smythe for a jumper and Smythe found Eddie Ekiyor for a dunk that sent the crowd into loud applause.

Ekiyor, who finished with 13 points and three rebounds, made a jumper after Joseph’s pass and steal. By then, the score was 55-30 as the Ravens capped off a nine-point offensive run.

“When the help [defence] comes, someone’s open,” Joseph said of his mentality driving the lane, “If no one’s open, I look to score.”

In the following night’s 84-50 win over Algoma, the Ravens continued their strong play, dominating at both ends of the court.

Fifth-year centre and team captain Smythe led both sides with 27 points and seven boards in 23 minutes of action.

Algoma took an early 8-4 lead from an Ian Nash jumper before the Ravens roared back with 14 straight points.

Ekiyor scored a couple of baskets under the rim before Smythe’s three-pointer gave the Ravens their first lead of the game. They wouldn’t relinquish it for the rest of the game.

The team shot 33 per cent from the field compared to Algoma’s 15 per cent and Smythe himself made three of four three-pointers.

The Thunderbirds found a spark in the second quarter, scoring four straight points to cut the deficit to 27-18, leading to a Carleton timeout. Smythe answered with two three-pointers and a jump shot in a one-minute span to push the score to 35-20.

The Ravens led 60-31 after three quarters, as bench players saw playing time. Forward Mitch Jackson contributed 11 points and seven rebounds in his 13 minutes to help increase the lead even as the game was winding down.

Once again, Carleton led the game in rebounds with 46 compared to Algoma’s 28 and assists with 24 to 10.

Smythe credited practice for his strong shooting.

“I’m just trying to get a lot of shots during the week,” he said.

Going forward, Smythe also noted how the defence needs to improve defending one-on-one.

“We have a lot of potential,” Joseph said of the defence. “Our defensive potential: we’re long, we’re quick, we’re fast. We just got to get stronger on defence.”

Next up, the Ravens travel to face the Waterloo Warriors and the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks on Nov. 10 and 11.

Photo by Aaron Hemens