Carleton women successfully defend national basketball title with narrow win over Saskatchewan

The Carleton Ravens have defended their U Sports women’s basketball title.

The second-seeded Ravens won a 70-67 thriller over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in Sunday’s championship game at Edmonton’s Saville Centre.

Husky Logan Reider’s last-ditch three-point effort to tie the game hit the backboard and rimmed out.

The Ravens scoring-by-committee effort outdid a heroic night from Saskatchewan’s Gage Grassick, who put up 30 points for the Huskies.

The Huskies led 63-59 halfway through the fourth quarter, after a three-pointer from Carly Ahlstrom brought the heavily pro-Saskatchewan crowd to its feet. But the Huskies’ shooting went ice cold down the stretch.

A field goal from Tatyanna Burke gave Carleton a 64-63 lead. Burke’s field goal to give Carleton a five-point lead with just 47 seconds left was the dagger through the Huskies’ collective heart. She finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.

WATCH | Carleton goes back-to-back:

Carleton women capture back-to-back national basketball titles with win over Saskatchewan

Carleton Ravens beat Saskatchewan Huskies 70-67 in the gold medal game of the U Sports women’s basketball national championship.

Ravens guard Kali Pocrnic, who had been held to just four points in the first half, heated up in the second. She led the Ravens with 18 points. Pocrnic had been the Ravens’ star in the lead-up to the final, scoring 22 points in the semifinals and 25 in the quarterfinal stage.

The game brought together the two dominant programs in women’s basketball over the last decade. Going into the game, Saskatchewan and Carleton accounted for four national championships over the past seven years.

Grassick committed two fouls early in the first quarter, but coach Lisa Thomaidis elected to keep her in the game. It was the right call, as her 30 points and five assists together accounted for more than half of the Huskies’ offence.

Despite being a smaller team than the Huskies, the Ravens won the rebounding battle by a 45-42 margin. They were led by Jacqueline Urban’s 13 boards. She was injured late in the second quarter after a collision with Saskatchewan’s Courtney Primeau, but returned after the half with a taped right knee.

Despite being the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the Final 8, Carleton and Saskatchewan didn’t get a player on U Sports’ season-ending All-Canadian First Team. Gage Grassick (Saskatchewan) and Kali Pocrnic (Carleton) were on the Second Team.

Laval won the bronze-medal game 76-62 over Queen’s, led by 25 points from Lea-Sophie Verret.

WATCH | Laval wins bronze over Queen’s:

U Sports Women’s Basketball National Championship: Bronze medal game

Watch the Laval Rouge et Or take on the Queen’s Gaels in the bronze medal game of the U Sports women’s basketball national championship from Edmonton.

Laval men’s basketball team wins 1st title

Before the U Sports men’s basketball champion, Laval University’s head coach Nathan Grant said his team rises to challenges from a superior team.

On Sunday, players on the Rouge et Or showed their head coach was right.

In front of a sellout and loud Amphitheatre-Desjardins on the campus of the University of Laval in Quebec City, the host Rouge et Or captured their first-ever U Sports men’s basketball national championship by defeating the Queen’s Gaels 77-71.

WATCH | Laval captures 1st title in program history:

Laval beats Queen’s in U Sports men’s basketball final for 1st-ever national title

Laval Rouge et Or defeat Queen’s Gaels 77-71 in the gold medal game of the U Sports men’s basketball national championship.

Ranked eighth heading into the Final 8, Laval will hang the first basketball banner in the history of the institution.

It was a see-saw battle between the No. 2 seed Queen’s and Laval. Down early by the score of 8-5, the Rouge et Or battled back to score 16 unanswered points to take a 21-8 advantage. Laval led 24-17 after the first quarter.

Queen’s fought back in the second quarter and took the ball to the offensive boards, as they became more physical under the net, especially with the play of Adefolarin (Fofo) Adetogun, who got under the skin of many Laval players. The Gaels managed to slow down the rapid Laval players and took a 43-39 lead to the dressing room at halftime.

A more poised Laval team came back for the second half and started using its speed as Grant’s players were often the first player to retrieve a loose ball or fetch a rebound.

Diminutive forward Steve Joseph (five-foot-eight) who played his CEGEP basketball at Vanier in Montreal was the court leader throughout the game. In the second half, Joseph calmly led the offence on the court, getting his teammates set, especially, the player of the game for Laval, Ismaël Diouf, who scored 26 points for the national champs.

A men's basketball player raises a trophy.
Laval University Rouge et Or’s Ismaël Diouf raises the championship trophy following their 77-71 victory over the Queen’s University Gaels in the men’s final in Quebec City. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The strategy worked as Laval led 57-55 after three quarters.

In the final quarter, Queen’s gave it all they had but Laval hung on. However, in the final minutes of the game, trailing 68-67 Andrew Tennant stole the ball and slam dunked the Gaels to a 69-68 lead with 1:37 to go in regulation time.

Diouf then picked up an important offensive rebound and put Laval ahead 70-69 as the loud crowd responded as they could smell the victory with 51 seconds to play.

Joseph then extended the lead to 72-69 with 29 seconds to go and the Rouge et Or were on their way to victory.

Cole Syllas was named the player of the game for Queen’s. Syllas had 17 points, 13 rebounds. As for Diouf, he added 12 rebounds to his 26 points.

An all-tournament member, Diouf was named the recipient of the Jack Donahue Trophy as the tourney’s most valuable player.

For the Rouge et Or, they started the tournament with a 75-69 win over the heavily favoured Victoria Vikes, the No. 1 ranked team in the country.

Laval followed that surprising victory by overcoming the Atlantic champions, the Dalhousie Tigers from Halifax, 85-77. The Tigers were the No. 5 seed in the tournament.

Ottawa defeated Dalhousie 91-83 in the bronze-medal game earlier Sunday for its second consecutive third-place finish at nationals.

WATCH | Ottawa takes down Dalhousie to win bronze:

U Sports Men’s Basketball National Championship: Bronze medal game

Watch the Ottawa Gee-Gees and Dalhousie Tigers battle for the bronze medal in the U Sports Men’s Basketball National Championship from Quebec City.

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