OTTAWA – A loss would have been a loss for the Carleton Ravens, secure as they are with their track record of peaking in March at the CIS Final 8. Conversely the Ottawa Gee-Gees, clapping those ringless fingers over the ears to block out chants of “sloppy seconds!” from the Carleton student section, are no closer to knowing if they can ever push the Ravens off their perch.
The rub with the Ravens, as always, is that they create and control the decisive moments of a ball game. The final 94-73 margin in Friday’s No. 1 vs. 2 showdown at a raucous Ravens’ Nest might make it appear little has changed. Surmising as much overlooks that the margin was a singleton early in the second quarter after Ottawa’s former all-Canadian transfer, Terry Thomas, checked in to lead an 18-7 run that cancelled out Carleton’s game-opening 20-8 burst. Invisible to the naked eye, but evident to anyone who’s seen this movie a few times, the Gee-Gees were already sporting some pinhole leaks, with super sophomore Caleb Agada and centre Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue were both in foul trouble.
That played a part in a 15-0 run that started with a big three from Tyson Hinz, one of his six on the night as he and Phil Scrubb worked the two-man, ball-reversal gambit to seize on Ottawa’s inexperience on the wing. Thomas Scrubb proved once again that he’s a 6-foot-5 Swiss army knife who can do it all, while Clinton Springer-Williams chipped in whenever Carleton was forced away from its first or second option.
Hinz shot 11-of-18 for 32 points with nine rebounds, each game highs. Phil Scrubb was held to seven on 2-of-11, but Thomas Scrubb (7-of-11 for 18 with seven boards) and Springer-Williams (5-of-11 for 16, eight boards) picked up the slack.
Berhanemeskel started slowly but led Ottawa, now 16-1 vs. CIS competition, with 17 poitns and eight rebounds. Agada (14 in 28 minutes due to foul trouble), Vikas Gill (11 in 24) and Thomas (11 in 26), also hit double digits.
By halftime, it was 54-37 and the chimera that was sustained when the cross-town rivals missed out on playing for the national title last March had evaporated. Ottawa never threw in the towel as plenty of good teams have done in the face of Carleton’s unfailing execution. Leading scorer Johnny Berhanemeskel made the play of the night with a 360-degree layup in the third quarter and Ottawa got as close as six late in that period.
It didn’t matter. With Carleton, it seldom does.
The upshot for the Gee-Gees, as much emphasis was on this earlier-than-usual Canal War renewal, is that it did control play for a stretch in the first half after Thomas checked in. The former St. FX star had to heal up both a high-ankle sprain and a wonky hamstring while sitting out the first eight OUA games before becoming eligible. But the 6-foot-4 swingman did give Ottawa a lift, if only briefly.
Carleton’s tertiary characters, such as Jean-Emmanuel Pierre-Charles and three-point specialist Connor Wood, also chipped in with some tough D and timely shooting.
In the final analysis, Carleton has confirmed everything that was suspected about how they match up with Ottawa a few weeks earlier than usual. Ottawa has plenty of time to catch up, though.