If you had any doubt about the Carleton Ravens' focus, forget about it.
Despite having a berth in the Final 8 locked up, the reigning CIS champions put on a clinic in the Wilson Cup semi-final, dismantling the Lakehead Thunderwolves 72-51.
The ‘Wolves were missing the soul of their team in Ryan Thomson, who led the team in per-game scoring but suffered a left knee injury with under two minutes left in their previous matchup with the McMaster Marauders. It was Thomson's second missed Wilson Cup tournament in a row.
This loss was a recipe for disaster: Lakehead had to play one of the toughest defences in the league while missing their best offensive player. Their troubles showed from the opening tip when Greg Carter dribbled the ball off his own foot on a drive to the basket. Two of the next four possessions would end up as Lakehead turnovers too.
Carleton would pounce on the defensive mistakes early, using the twelve first-half turnovers to build a halftime lead of 30-16. Despite the double-digit advantage, it still seemed like the Ravens had a higher gear available. Dave Smart's crew only managed a 37.5% field goal percentage as they headed to the locker room.
The Ravens would get back to their trademark style in the second half, using what might be the most lethal threesome in the CIS. Tyson Hinz, Phil Scrubb, and Thomas Scrubb simply took over on offense, combining for 14 points to bury the GGODs.
Lakehead's offense improved somewhat in the third quarter, committing only two turnovers and knocking down four field goals. But a 13-0 run that lasted nearly four minutes created enough separation for the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. Carleton caught fire from behind the three-point line, shooting a ridiculous 6-13 in the second half.
The Ravens have faced criticism that says they have regressed since losing three major players in Cole Hobin, Willy Manigat, and Elliot Thompson, and starting the season with a loss to the Windsor Lancers created an early doubt about the shot at defending the championship. Tonight was a strong showing for Carleton, though, as they showed off both their defensive prowess and potent offense. The third quarter run came out of nowhere, and Lakehead coach Scott Morrison looked like he had no answer.
Phil Scrubb led the way for the Ravens, dropping a clean 15 points on 6-12 shooting while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out five assists. Lakehead's Joseph Nitychoruk was the only effective player wearing blue tonight. In 21 minutes of play, Nitychoruk finished with 12 points on 4-7 shooting, and also pulled down five boards.
Carleton moves on to the Wilson Cup final Saturday against the winner of Friday's Windsor-Ottawa game, where the Ravens will try to repeat as Ontario champions after defeating the Ryerson Rams in last year's OUA final. Lakehead will have a second opportunity to grab a nationals berth in the bronze-medal game, which with Carleton's win serves as a play-in game for the Final 8.