Championships Men’s Final 8

EDMONTON — The host Golden Bears missed a shot with no time left in regulation, as the two-time defending champion Carleton Ravens overcame a hostile crowd in a 64-63 win in the national semifinal at Saville Centre on Saturday night.

Men’s Schedule & Results

Bears guard Geoffrey James’s last-second shot bounced twice off the rim and out, securing a spot in the final for the visiting Ravens.

The Ravens were led by U SPORTS Player of the Year Lloyd Pandi, who dropped 14 points and added 14 rebounds.

“We were fortunate at the end of the game that the ball didn’t bounce their way. I don’t have too many words to describe that game. It was a gritty ball game, and we came out on top,” said Pandi. “They brought it, we brought it, and it came down to the final possession.”

Canada West Player of the Year Tyus Jefferson led the Bears with a game-high 16 points, but missed a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left in regulation.

Carleton advances to play Saskatchewan in tomorrow’s final, while Alberta will play Queen’s for Bronze.

“I’m so proud of these guys, we will fight for a medal tomorrow. Left it all on the court. Ball bouncing on the rim with a trip to the national final on the line,” said Bears head coach Barnaby Craddock. “Crowd got their money’s worth. What a fantastic environment for basketball here in Edmonton.”

It was easily the U SPORTS game of the year, as the home Alberta crowd was treated to a final quarter that rivalled most sports dramas.

The Bears were in real danger of letting the game get out of hand in just the first quarter, when Carleton’s vaunted #1 U SPORTS-ranked defence held them to just a 15.3% shooting mark. The Raven guard combo of Alain Louis and Wazir Latiff helped the Ravens to a 20-9 first-quarter lead.

Alberta was able to respond out of the break, with third-year guard Brandon Meiklejohn hitting two threes in what amounted to a 12-0 Bears run that got them within striking distance. Pandi would take over the last minute of the half, however, and aid the Ravens to a 40-31 lead at halftime.

The second half had the feel of a U SPORTS final, as both teams brought elite intensity amidst ear-bursting cheers from the home crowd. The fourth quarter was the best the Saville Centre has seen all year. It was defined by intense defence and clutch buckets off the hands of James and Pandi.

“Definitely a game of runs, and at the end of the game, there was nothing separating both teams. Once bounce the other way, and it’s a different outcome,” concluded Craddock. “Both teams left it all out there, and we are proud with the performance we put out there, but disappointed with the result.”

With the exciting semifinal win, the Ravens advance to the Gold Medal Match tomorrow versus the No. 8 upstart Saskatchewan Huskies, looking for their third-straight W. P. McGee Trophy. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. MST/8 p.m. EST. The host Bears will face the No. 5 Queens Gaels in the Bronze Medal Match tomorrow at 3 p.m. MST/5 p.m. EST.

Box score

Nike Top Performers

Carleton Ravens: Lloyd Pandi

Alberta Golden Bears: Geoffrey James