Women’s Basketball News

EDMONTON (U SPORTS) – For the first time in program history, the Carleton Ravens are back-to-back U SPORTS champions.

In an instant classic, the second-seeded Ravens were able to gut out a 70-67 victory over the #1 Saskatchewan Huskies Sunday night at Saville Centre. It was a repeat result of the 2018 Championship Final in which Carleton captured their first title over the Huskies in Saskatchewan. It is the third championship in program history.

Schedule & Results

It was truly a game befitting a championship, as the teams were neck-and-neck for the entire contest in the weekends best game. The largest lead any side held was eight by Carleton, and that was early in the second quarter, but a gutsy Ravens team was able to win a tight fourth quarter by a 16-9 margin that was the difference to bring home their third Bronze Baby Trophy.

“That game could’ve gone either way. So much respect for the Huskies program,” said Ravens head coach Dani Sinclair. “We played some tough teams in the OUA, but that was a tough group to play against.”

Tournament MVP Kali Pocrnic led the Ravens with 18 points and chipped in two assists and steals. She was aided by a deep Carleton effort that saw five other players, most notably Tatyanna Burke with 14, score nine or more points.

“We base ourselves on our defence. We were a bit scattered early on. Gage was terrific for them. But the final three minutes we really settled in, focused on our rotations, and needed to play lockdown defence,” said Sinclair, whose Ravens held the Huskies to nine points in the final quarter, and just two points over the last 85 seconds.

First team U SPORTS All-Canadian Gage Grassick had the tournaments best game, scoring a Final 8-high 30 points and adding six rebounds, five assists, three steals, a block, and almost willed the championship to return to the Prairies. Team captain Carly Ahlstrom played well in the loss as well, recording 13 points and two blocks.

It was a loud and exciting start to the Championship in the Saville Centre Competition Gym, with the travelling contingents of both squads raising the energy level in a back-and-forth first.

Saskatchewan held a slight early advantage thanks to the play of Grassick who had five points by the midway mark of the frame. But Carleton would exit the quarter with a 19-14 lead with Dorcas Buisa hitting all four of her free throw attempts to help the Ravens offence get their feet wet in an exciting start to the Championship Final.

It was an incredibly competitive second quarter between the two squads but the Huskies, behind a dominant quarter from Grassick who had a high of 11 points, slimmed their deficit to just two with a 23-20 quarter win. Kyana-Jade Poulin was able to keep the Ravens afloat with seven points of her own and two steals in a frame where they got outrebounded by a 15-4 margin.

Grassick led all scorers at the break with 18 points and added four rebounds and two assists in a phenomenal first half of basketball while Carleton was paced by Poulin who had nine of her own. Remarkably, six Ravens had multiple buckets in what was a truly deep offensive attack from the OUA Champs.

The Huskies, spurred on by the massive support section that dominated the gym noise for much of the game, came out strong out of the break with Grassick continuing her great play and Carly Ahlstrom chipping in five points and three boards. Carletons early success shooting the ball was nullified in the frame, with the Huskies holding them to just a 6/18 mark from the field. Saskatchewan held a tight 58-54 advantage heading into the fourth, setting up an incredible finish to the Championship Final.

The defensive intensity ratcheted up to start the final frame, with the two squads going a cumulative 4-for-11 from the field at the midway mark as the Huskies maintained their four-point lead thanks to five early points from Ahlstrom. However, a cool five points from Pocrnic gave the Ravens a three-point lead with two minutes to go, as the collective anxiety in the building reached its highest pitch.

It was a Pocrnic again with 1:30 remaining who hit a spinning turnaround jumper to give the Ravens a huge 68-63 advantage and force a Huskies timeout. Grassick responded with a steal and layup shortly after, only for Tatyanna Burke to get a putback layup and give the Ravens back a five-point advantage with 40 seconds to go.

The Huskies Ella Murphy Wiebe potted an easy layup to bring the deficit to three with 11 seconds remaining, and then forced an incredible steal on the next possession but Logan Reider was not able to convert a last-second three and Carleton put a bow on a second-straight title.

Boxscore

Players of the Game

Carleton: #6 Tatyanna Burke

Saskatchewan: #5 Gage Grassick

Tournament All-Stars

Julia Chadwick, Queen’s

Carly Ahlstrom, Saskatchewan

Kyana-Jade Poulin, Carleton

Gage Grassick, Saskatchewan

Léa-Sophie Verret, Laval

Tournament MVP

Kali Pocrnic, Carleton