Welcome to Monday Morning Quarterback, a weekly look at all the best U SPORTS stories from the weekend.
Ravens best Badgers in OT
Saturday night saw one of the most-anticipated matchups of the Canadian university basketball season so far, with the #1 Carleton Ravens (9-0 entering the game) on the road to face the #2 Brock Badgers (9-1) in front of 3,296 fans at St. Catharines’ Meridian Centre.
The game lived up to the hype, with Carleton leading 19-14 after the first quarter and 39-31 at the half, but Brock cutting the lead to three points entering the fourth quarter and taking a six-point lead of their own at one point in the final regulation frame, only to have the Ravens storm back to tie it at 66 and send it to overtime, where they came out with a 80-75 win. Despite the eventual loss, though, the Badgers managed to be the first team all season to take Carleton to overtime, and the first to lose to Carleton by less than 14 points. And Brock coach Charles Kissi said afterwards the game suggested the seven-time defending national champion Ravens aren’t invincible.
“I think you saw it that we’re right there, we just have to make fewer mistakes,” Kissi said after the game. “They’re human. (Carleton) has had an incredible run with an incredible coach, but they’re human.
“They put their pants on one leg at a time, like everyone else, and you have to approach the game that way. If you go into a game thinking you’re going to lose, then you’re going to.”
Eddie Ekiyor had a huge night on the boards for the Ravens, pulling in 12 rebounds (three on the offensive glass) and adding eight points. Mitch Wood was also a key contributor off the bench, recording 11 rebounds (nine offensive) and six points. Yasiin Joseph led Carleton with 17 points (on seven-for-22 shooting, though) and four rebounds, while Munis Tutu added 14 points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists. Dani Elgadi led Brock with 16 points and 16 rebounds, while Cassidy Ryan had 20 points and five rebounds.
This was the Badgers’ second-straight loss of the weekend, though, as they fell to No. 9 Ottawa 78-69 Friday. But it was a good effort from them and a great showcase for U SPORTS basketball, living up to what Doug Smith of The Toronto Star wrote ahead of the game:
[U SPORTS] basketball has made giant strides in the last little while according to (a) my own eyes and (b) the opinion of impartial observers I talk to regularly and the various teams are probably worthy of support.
It should not be any surprise, really.
I had this piece on the Canadian university pipeline to the G League sometime last month, Carleton grad Phil Scrubb was the best player on the version of the Canadian team that played Bahamas and Dominican Republic and I know there are other Canadian university grads with good jobs all over the world because of the training they got here.
And there are many more to come, which is hugely significant and, I’d hope, create a rise in overall interest in the game.
No. 5 Dinos sweep No. 3 Heat in straight sets twice
It was a great week for the No. 5 Calgary Dinos in women’s volleyball, but not a good one for the No. 3 UBC Okanagan Heat. The Heat went on the road to play the Dinos Thursday and Friday, and lost both games in straight sets, falling 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 Thursday and 25-18, 25-22, 31-29 Friday. That final set Friday was particularly crazy, with the Heat fighting off seven match points before Kate Pexman finally put them away with a kill following a dig off the serve that came back over the net:
After Saturday’s match, Dinos’ head coach Natalie Gurnsey said those multiple match point opportunities were a growing moment for her team:
"These are the moments you live for in sport, and when you win them, it feels really good. They build your character. You learn from it. We trained for it; the girls know there will be times when they will have to perform under pressure, especially against such a strong team. After yesterday's rivalry, we made a few adjustments anticipating what the Heat might try to do tonight against us offensively, and we made several changes. But overall we talked about being able to repeat what we did last night, on back-to-back nights."
They certainly did that Friday. Beth Vinnell led the Dinos with 11 kills and just two errors in that match, hitting at a .474 percentage, while Brianna Solberg had nine kills and nine digs and Pexman added seven kills and 16 digs. Siobhan Fitzpatrick posted 14 kills for the Heat. On Thursday, Pexman (playing in her first game in a while after injury) led the way with 15 kills, while Vinnell had 14 and Jaylynn Moffatt had seven. Ann Richards posted 16 kills and five digs for the Heat in that game.
No. 6 Huskies best No. 2 Varsity Reds in shootout, UNB rebounds to beat No. 7 Axemen in overtime
There was some great Atlantic University Sport hockey action this weekend to close the first half of the season, especially when it came to the No. 2 University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds. On Friday, the No. 6 Saint Mary’s Huskies topped UNB 5-4 in a shootout, but the Varsity Reds bounced back Saturday to knock off the No. 7 Acadia Axemen 3-2 in overtime. Friday’s game saw a 10-round shootout, with Bronson Beaton recording the winner for SMU. Eric Brassard also had a great game in net for the Huskies, making 35 saves during regulation and overtime play and adding eight more in the shootout.
On Saturday, defenceman Matt Murphy was the hero for UNB, scoring 16 seconds into overtime to give them the win and earning a player of the game nod for his efforts.
Dinos split weekend series with No. 5 Huskies
It was a good weekend for the Calgary Dinos, who earned a road split with the No. 5 Saskatchewan Huskies. On Friday night, the 6-2 Dinos handed the 8-0 Huskies their first loss of the season, coming away with a 74-68 victory. It was a mix of veterans and rookies excelling for Calgary, as fifth-year wing Shannon Hatch notched 19 points (including a perfect 5-for-5 mark from deep) and added nine rebounds, while rookie point guard Liene Stalidzane had 15 points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.
On Saturday, though, the Huskies struck back, coming out with a 67-57 win. Three different Saskatchewan players picked up over 10 points, with Summer Masikewich notching 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Libby Epoch added 16 and Lindquist chipped in 15 points and seven rebounds.
No. 7 Wesmen split five-set thrillers with No. 3 Bobcats
There was some excellent Canada West volleyball action this week, with the No. 7 Winnipeg Wesmen splitting a pair of matches with the No. 3 Brandon Bobcats. On Tuesday, the Bobcats won the first two sets 25-21 and 25-18, but the host Wesmen rebounded to win the final three 25-18, 25-17 and 15-9, led by David Bommersbach’s 14 kills and Mikael Clegg’s 26 assists, while Seth Friesen had 18 kills for Brandon.
On Friday at Brandon, the Wesmen won the first two sets 25-15 and 25-21, but Brandon won the final three 25-18, 25-21, 15-9. A crucial tactical change saw Brandon move starting libero Brady Nault to outside hitter in the third set and Joel Makara come in at libero; Nault finished with seven kills. Friesen had 16 kills, and said afterwards the team kept their belief despite trailing early.
"I didn't think we'd have another one that dramatic since Tuesday but it happened again so nothing to complain about right now. I think it was just belief that we would come back. We didn't doubt for a second."
No. 4 Bisons pick up split with No. 2 Thunderbirds
A Canada West women’s hockey showdown this weekend saw the fourth-ranked Manitoba Bisons earn a split with the second-ranked UBC Thunderbirds. On Friday night, UBC came up with a 3-0 road win, led by an 18-save shutout from Tory Micklash. However, that one was closer than it looked, as two of the Thunderbirds’ goals came with the net empty in the third period. Oh, and with the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour in Winnipeg this weekend, co-host Tara Slone joined the Manitoba broadcast and tried her hand at color commentary:
On Saturday night, Manitoba bounced back with a 2-1 overtime win, thanks to a power-play goal from Venla Hovi. Lauren Warkentin also scored for the Bisons in that one, while Hannah Clayton-Carroll answered for UBC.
Track and Field
Mustangs, Lions, Martlets and X-Men post some wins
This week saw plenty of track and field action, with the Western Mustangs hosting the Bob Vigars Opener, the York Lions hosting the Christmas Open, the McGill Martlets hosting the Martlet Classic and several Atlantic University Sport teams competing in the Athletics Nova Scotia Last Chance Meet. Full results can be found at the above links.
Some notable outcomes from the Bob Vigars Opener included Western’s Daniel O’Brien, Matthew Chan and Adam Nalywaiko taking the top three spots in the men’s 60-metre dash, Waterloo claiming the top three spots in the men’s 1000 metres, and McMaster taking the top four in the men’s 3000 metres. At York, Guelph athletes earned positions 1, 3, 4 and 5 in the women’s long jump, while Lions’ competitors finished first and second in the the women’s 3000 metres. At McGill, the home team’s Matthew Daly won the men’s 60 metres, and a McGill squad took home gold in the 4X200 relay as well. In the Nova Scotia meet, St. FX athletes finished first and third through seventh in the women’s 300 metres (20-34 age group) and first and second in the men’s 60-metre dash (also 20-34). Overall, St. FX finished as the highest-ranked university team (third overall), with Dalhousie fourth overall, UPEI 13th and Acadia 14th.
Social media posts of the week
Paska makes history for Rams, over 3,000 watch Laurier-Waterloo school day hockey game
Ryerson Rams’ women’s basketball forward Sofia Paska made some cool history Wednesday, becoming their sixth player ever to notch 1,000 points. Here’s the shot that put her over the top, complete with some nifty post moves:
Elsewhere in the OUA, a school day hockey game between crosstown rivals Laurier and Waterloo drew a massive crowd Thursday:
Andrew has been covering university sports in Canada since 2005 at outlets such as The Queen's Journal, The CIS Blog, and Yahoo Canada, where he also served as the editor of the Canadian football blog 55-Yard Line. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Queen's University with a major in history, and currently works as a staff writer and editor for Awful Announcing and The Comeback.