OTTAWA, Ont. – At this point you can just say it is impossible to beat the Ravens on their own floor.
It had been 6235 days since the Rams last won a game on the campus of Carleton University, and after tonight you can make it 6236.
Connor Wood’s play was as ugly as his shooting form, Ryan Ejim was saddled with foul trouble, and Eddie Ekiyor only managed to play 18 minutes and score 4 points.
Yet Carleton’s unmatched depth propelled them to an 82-77 win and more than likely locked down an undefeated OUA regular season.
Joe Rocca, the transfer forward who’s the 7th man on this team, took over the 2nd half following a Rams run to open the 3rd quarter, and was the guy quelling each mini Rye run with his four three pointers on six attempts.
You could even argue Marcus Anderson, the quiet sophomore wing was tonight’s Ravens MVP, as he harassed Adika Peter-McNeilly and Manny Diressa on defence, while casually going 3-4 from the beyond the arc as well, including an impossible fallaway from NBA range that served as the moral dagger.
And, oh yeah, Kaza Kajami-Keane had a team-high 21 points on 9-18 shooting while also grabbing four rebounds.
In what most would call a sloppy effort from the Ravens, as they actually turned the ball over more than Ryerson at 16-12, they won playing Carleton basketball. They out-rebounded the Rams by 10, shot over 50% from the floor, and overwhelmed the opponent with their superior depth, outscoring the Rams bench 30-12.
Despite all that, the Rams look poised for an upset, whether that comes in two weeks during the OUA Final Four, or during the Final 8 in Halifax.
After struggling through a 1-8 first half, Manny Diressa caught fire in the 2nd, finishing with a game high 26 points and showed why he’s one of the best 1 on 1 offensive players in Canada when he attacks the basket, as evidenced by 14 free throw attempts and 12 makes. Veterans Adika Peter-McNeilly and Myles Charvis also chipped in 14 points a piece for the Rams in the losing effort.
The game hit its peak in the fourth, when the teams traded threes off of loose balls on the deck, one from Kajami-Keane and one from Charvis. Joe Rocca and Juwon Grannum then traded threes, Manny Diressa finished plus the harm to pull the Rams within 2 at 78-76, and that was as close as the Rams would come before Keane put the game to bed with a huge bucket on an isolation.
Ryerson cemented their status as Carleton’s #1 challenger this season, and just as senior forward Juwon Grannum posted to Snapchat post game, “Tough one…learn and move on”, the Rams will be back at the Ravens Nest in roughly two weeks time with an added punch to challenge for their 2nd consecutive OUA title.
Although, if Carleton’s best players like Kajami-Keane spend extra hours putting up shots after every win like this, it might not matter at all.