KINGSTON — “The Carleton Ravens are OUA basketball champions” is a line you’ve pretty heard a lot as a fan of the Ravens, or university basketball in Canada in general. Eight times since 2002-2003, to be exact.
And while that line was said tonight, for the first time it was about the Carleton Ravens women’s basketball team, not the men. It was the first time in their program history and the second consecutive year where there was a first time-winning program, after the Ryerson Rams won the title last year.
WRAVENS WIN! Carleton takes home their first ever OUA Critelli Cup Championship They defeat @queensgaels 49-41 for the gold medal pic.twitter.com/TWNTM5t1YK
— Carleton Ravens (@CURavens) 5 March 2017
When I spoke with Ravens head coach Taffe Charles yesterday, he told me that he wanted to build a women’s program that is as renowned and accomplished as their male counterparts. Tonight, he and his team took a giant step forward in accomplishing that.
A sellout crowd of 1,904 fans packed the beautiful gymnasium at Queen’s University in Kingston, with the majority rooting for the hometown Queen’s Gaels who were looking for their first OUA championship since 2000-2001. They only had one giant obstacle standing in their way: the Carleton Ravens.
PACKED HOUSE! Near capacity crowd in Kingston for the @OUAsport WBB Gold Medal Game. I’ll have the call at https://t.co/mwE8eHDX5r pic.twitter.com/CmILY5yI9c
— Adam Jenkins (@adamkjenkins) 5 March 2017
Despite their best efforts—although one look at the box score would tell you that it wasn’t their best effort by any stretch of the imagination—the Ravens came out soaring and the Gaels weren’t quite up to the task.
15-of-76 shooting won’t win you many basketball games. It definitely won’t win you an OUA Championship as the Gaels realized tonight.
The nation’s best defence flexed its muscle, frustrating the Gaels all night long. The Player of the Game, Heather Lindsay, Carleton’s starting centre was as reliable and productive as always. She posted a line of 16 rebounds, 15 points, three blocks, one assist, and 5-of-6 shooting from the free throw line.
Despite out-rebounding Carleton 61-47, Queen’s seemed out of sorts for the majority of the game. The shots that usually fall for the starters were not falling, and the bench only provided four points of support.
Following the game I had the chance to catch up with Catharine Traer, the Ravens-transfer from the University of Ottawa.
“FINALLY! LAST YEAR CAME CLOSE, MY FIRST YEAR CAME CLOSE. WORDS CAN’T EVEN DESCRIBE HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW”
Traer was joined by her family on the floor after the game, as well as a special guest in the Critelli Cup.
Yes that is the #CritelliCup and yes that is @CatherineTraer‘s dog in the Cup. @CURavens fans of all shapes, sizes & species are celebrating pic.twitter.com/6Q5UqhlZzL
— CUSN (@CUSNetwork) 5 March 2017
Jenjen Abella, Carleton’s starting point guard who played through a significant amount of pain after injuring her knee last night was equally at a loss for words following the win, and according to her, wasn’t going to miss the game for anything in the world.
“PLAYING WITH THESE GIRLS IS AN UNBELIEVABLE EXPERIENCE AND I JUST COUDN’T RESIST PLAYING WITH THEM, SO I HAD TO DO WHATEVER I NEEDED TO DO TO BE ON THE COURT TONIGHT”
While the success of the program is clear when you look at their on-floor product, an equal amount of success must be attributed to head coach Taffe Charles, who always puts his team first, as we saw during Carleton’s postgame celebration.
Queen’s staffer tries to stop @CURavens from cutting down the nets b/c they “aren’t free.” HC Taffe Charles reply: “I’ll pay you right now”
— Adam Jenkins (@adamkjenkins) 5 March 2017
While a banner and a Critelli Cup would’ve been a great way to cap off their OUA season, the Gaels’ U SPORTS season isn’t over yet.
The Queen’s Gaels only have one modern-day OUA women’s basketball championship, and they’ve never won a CIAU/CIS/U SPORTS title. However, back in the old days in the OUA when there were only a handful of women’s basketball teams, the Bronze Baby Trophy was the provincial championship, which the Gaels have won five times.
There’s still one more banner and trophy that these two teams would love to win. The Gaels, along with the Ravens, will be flying to Victoria in just a few days time to represent Ontario University Athletics at the U SPORTS Final 8 national championship, which begins on Thursday at 12:00 PM PST.