Ravens men’s basketball win Capital Hoops

The Ravens men’s basketball team beat the University of Ottawa (U of O) Gee-Gees 67-56 in the Capital Hoops Classic on Feb. 2 in a tight and tough game—just as Ravens forward Marcus Anderson had anticipated.

“We knew they were going to punch us in the mouth, but we had to just keep rallying back,” Anderson said.

He added that the Gee-Gees had improved since their last meeting where Carleton won 74-53.

“They got a lot more experience going into the future,” Anderson said of the improved Gee-Gees. “Coming in, they’ve played a couple of close games. I knew they were going to be extra prepared for this.”

The Gee-Gees came out to an 18-12 lead, paced by Brandon Robinson’s 15 points on the game. Carleton would fight back, outscoring the U of O 23-12 in the second quarter.

However, the Gee-Gees clawed back in the third quarter, keeping the score close heading into the fourth, with big baskets by former Raven Jean-Emmanuel Pierre-Charles, and point guard Calvin Epistola.

Gee-Gees forward (and another former Raven) Brody Maracle said before the game that a win would be huge for the team’s confidence. His team played that way heading into the fourth, until they couldn’t hit shots. The offensive woes were capped off as Maracle missed two layups at the rim on the same possession, and Carleton’s Yasiin Joseph found Eddie Ekiyor for a layup.

Carleton outscored the U of O 16-8 in the final 10 minutes, with Joseph (15 points, five assists) and Ekiyor (14 points, 10 rebounds) leading the way.

Anderson praised the team’s resiliency afterwards.

“We knew they weren’t going to stop at any cost, and as long as we kept on coming, we knew we were going to have the edge,” he said.

Although the team is ranked first in U Sports with a perfect 19-0 record and had just beaten their rivals in front of over 8,000 spectators in attendance at the Canadian Tire Centre, there was a calmness and levelheadedness around the occasion, according to the players.

Anderson called it “just another game” and said he wanted his teammates to “tune out the noise.”

Joseph had the same approach despite this being his first Capital Hoops as a starter.

“It was just a regular game,” Joseph said. “You treat every game as the same thing.”

Anderson added that there is still a certain degree of humility this season despite their undefeated record.

“We just got to keep grinding in practice,” he added. “We know other teams around the league are getting better . . . we got to be prepared for everybody.”

Part of that attitude comes from attention to detail and a constant desire to improve.

“Every day, we try and focus on the little details, focus on the key things and weaknesses of other teams,” Anderson said. “[At Capital Hoops] we started off slow, so I think we have to do a better job getting prepared.”

Anderson and Joseph said close games like Capital Hoops and previous narrow victories over the Brock Badgers (80-75 in overtime) and the Laurentian Voyageurs (71-67 after Carleton blew a 19-point lead) helps the team in the long-term.

“We got a lot of new guys coming into this year with a lot different roles so this experience is something that can help us,” Anderson said. “This game and the Brock game are definitely going to help us going down the lane.”

With the Ravens’ regular season coming to an end on Feb. 17, the team now turns their attention to the post-season and their readiness to defend their national championship.

“[Close games] make us better,” Joseph said. “They put us in situations like nationals where, when it’s tight-end and it’s a close game, we have to find a way to win.”

Photo by Aaron Hemens