Top Programs Kick Off Basketball Season in Ottawa

Some of the top men's and women's basketball programs in the country opened their seasons in Ottawa this past weekend, including both defending CIS champions. Here's our recap of those games:

Tough Start for Windsor

Following a strong regular season that saw them finish atop of the OUA West last season, the Windsor Lancers looked to rebound from a disappointing missed opportunity to play in the CIS Final 8 basketball championship last season as they lost to Lakehead in the OUA bronze medal game. However, things looked optimistic for the Lancers, who entered the season ranked sixth in the nation. Unfortunately for them, the schedulers weren’t so kind, forcing Windsor to open their season on the road at the opposite end of the province against the no. 1 Carleton Ravens and no. 3 Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Coming off of their ninth national championship in the past eleven years, it should be no surprise that the Ravens entered the season ranked atop of the CIS Top Ten. Led by legendary coach Dave Smart and a returning class of standouts including Phil and Thomas Scrubb, as well as Tyson Hinz, Carleton looks poised to contend in achieving their campaign of “Again for Ten.”

It was a high-profile affair to kick off the season at the Raven’s Nest, with a good-sized crowd walking into the arena on a red carpet draped with Ravens cheerleaders on either side while the band provided a traditional university sport soundtrack. A rendition of the national anthem before the game topped off the classy beginning, and the game began.

It took only four seconds for Carleton to put up their first points of the season, as Thomas Scrubb dunked the ball on a fast break off of tip-off. From there, Carleton never looked back, in a game that didn’t see a single lead change. Windsor was able to keep it close through the first quarter, trailing only 23-16.

In the second quarter, however, Carleton began to pull away, in particular dominating the boards, outrebounding the Lancers 23-14 at the half. Carleton also worked the outside shot, which led to them outscoring the Lancers 24-11 in the second quarter. Carleton’s 47% FG%, compared to Windsor’s 36%, gave the Ravens a 47-27 lead to start the third.

In the third, the Scrubb brothers continued to dominate, while Windsor saw some flashes of brilliance from senior Lien Phillip. Windsor tried to claw back into the game, but both Mike Rocca and Enrico Diloreto found themselves in early foul trouble. With three quarters gone, Carleton maintained a 70-51 lead.

In the fourth, Carleton kept the pressure up causing lots of frustration on the Windsor side, resulting in some unusual mistakes such as bad turnovers and travel calls. Coach Smart got the bench players some work near the end of the contest, when Carleton had taken a commanding 27 point lead. The Ravens went on to take the game by a final of 95-74, with strong performances by both Scrubb brothers. Phil scored 24 points with five assists, while Thomas had 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Phillip remained the standout for Windsor, scoring 20 points and nine rebounds in an otherwise unspirited effort.

In their second contest of the weekend, Windsor headed downtown to face the third-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees, hoping to bounce back from the previous night’s loss.

The game got off to a flying start, with both teams trading scoring runs in the first quarter. The Gee-Gees jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead, before Windsor turned things around on a 12-0 run of their own. Ottawa found their second big momentum swing in the first quarter following a pair of dunks by sophomore Caleb Agada, which led to 15 consecutive points for the Gees. Windsor was able to right the ship, however, closing the gap to 26-18 after the first intermission.

In the second quarter, things settled down a bit as the teams more consistently traded buckets. The Gee-Gees were able to get out to a 14 point lead, but Windsor’s Enrico Diloreto, who scored a team-high 29 points on the day, led a Lancers run at the end of the quarter to halve that lead, to 47-40 at the half.

In the third quarter, Windsor showed the hunger that was missing in the previous night’s game, as Josh Collins worked from beyond the arc and the Lancers were able to tie things up at 62 apiece, before taking a 66-65 lead into the final quarter.

A hot start to the fourth put Ottawa back ahead, though, and they didn’t look back. The Gee-Gees jumped out to a quick 9-0 run, and then it was Johnny Berhanemeskel who put the finishing touches on the game, with a pair of three-pointers and a deep field goal.

The Gee-Gees outscored the Lancers 31-19 in the final frame, en route to a 96-85 victory, but at the end of the night all of the attention was on Berhanemeskel. He set a new school record for career three-point scoring, by draining five and attaining 200 over his career. He led the Garnet and Grey offensively, picking up a game-high 34 points in the contest, in addition to snagging six rebounds.

Mustangs Suffer Blowouts

The other team that was in the national capital this past weekend was the unranked Western Mustangs, who finished last season in the basement of the OUA West in a season that saw only three wins.

Things didn’t look good for the Mustangs with the tough opening schedule, and neither Ottawa nor Carleton left room for any surprises.

On Friday, Ottawa found themselves with another hot start, putting up 26 on the Mustangs in the first. In the second quarter, the lead expanded as Ottawa outscored Western 29-19, to take a 55-37 lead into halftime.

The Gee-Gees continued to shoot well from beyond the arc, sinking eleven three-pointers and shooting 42% from three-point range. As the Mustangs fought to get back into the game, things got worse, as Western committed a whopping 24 turnovers in the contest.

Finally, the buzzer ran out with the scoreboard reading a final of 104-76 in favour of the Gee-Gees.

Most teams would look forward to the opportunity to bounce back from such a devastating loss, but that’s just not true when it’s Carleton waiting to face you.

As expected, things got even worse for the Mustangs in Saturday’s match-up.

Carleton came out firing on all cylinders, and Phil Scrubb and Clinton Springer-Williams each nailed a pair of three-pointers, helping the Ravens jump out to an 18-4 lead. By the time the first quarter ended, that lead had been extended to a 33-10.

There were no real changes in the second quarter, and by the time Phil Scrubb made a jump shot to hit the half-century mark for the Ravens, their lead was extended to 33 points. Heading into halftime, Carleton was leading 57-21.

In the second half, Western could only muster an additional 23 points, while Carleton hit the century mark with about seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the lead at that point being 100-36.

Perhaps in retribution for a 71-4 licking that the Mustangs football program laid on the start-up Ravens, Carleton’s basketball team went on to win by 75 points, 117-42. In a game that saw scoring dispersed evenly between the key starters and bench players, Springer-Williams finished with a game-high 17 points.

Lancers Drop Opener

Meanwhile, in women’s hoops, the roles were reversed in Friday’s Carleton-Windsor matchup. The Lancers entered ranked first in the country following three consecutive championships, and many believed they would have little problem jumping to a quick 2-0 start.

The Ravens, playing at home in front of an electric crowd, had other plans.

After an even first quarter, Carleton was led by Lindsay Shotbolt and McKenzie Sigurdson in the second quarter, scoring double the Lancers' nine points to take a 36-24 lead into halftime. Sigurdson had an explosive start, scoring 11 points in the first half alone.

Carleton fought to withhold the Windsor attack in the third quarter, and were able to equal the Lancers' offence and take a 51-41 lead into the fourth.

That’s when Windsor upped the ante, and began to claw back into Carleton’s lead. Korissa Williams scored five points to help the Lancers jump out to a 7-0 run to start the quarter, closing the lead to three. Sigurdson hit a clutch three to extend the lead, but Windsor again closed the gap, Miah-Marie Langlois three-pointer with 4:34 left shrunk the lead to a point.

With just over two minutes left, Windsor were finally able to restake the lead, and had momentum on their side. However, Sigurdson just could not be contained, as she sunk another shot from beyond the arc with 1:25 left to give Carleton a 60-58 lead. The Ravens clamped down on defense, and a pair of free throws following an intentional foul was enough to allow the Ravens to escape with a massive 62-58 upset to start the season.

Unsurprisingly, Sigurdson led all players in scoring with 20 points, and shot 100% from beyond the arc.
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