OTTAWA-History will cast them as a unit that had a chemistry that defined description: unselfish and determined, with an uncanny capacity to somehow handle throat-tightening pressure.

All season, they were the sort of team that didn’t care if anyone collected a double-double and that again proved the difference as the top-seeded Carleton Ravens dusted the third-seeded U.B.C. Thunderbirds 87-77 in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship final to capture their sixth W.P. McGee Trophy in seven years on Sunday at Scotiabank Place.

They did it with their bread-and-butter: team defence, shutting down the Thunderbirds high power offence and high-scoring guard Chris Dyck in the second half.

Tournament MVP Stuart Turnbull said the Ravens were on a dual mission, to redeem themselves after last year’s 82-80 double-overtime semi-final loss to Acadia and to prove that they could capture a title in the absence of two-time national player of the year Osvaldo Jeanty. “We were a determined bunch. We really wanted to prove that it wasn’t the Oz show and we could win without him.”

National defensive player of the year Rob Saunders, who limited Dyck to four points in the second half, said the title was a reward for years of effort.

“The loss last year was in the back of our minds, especially us older guys,” he noted. “It kept us focused, eye on the prize kind of thing. It pulled us through some tough times and everything came together. (Saturday) night, Stu’s shot (to defeat Western 66-65 in the semis) was insane. It doesn’t change my opinion at all that we deserved this. I don’t care if Stu had hit an even crazier shot. We worked all year and sacrificed a lot. I know we sacrificed a lot more than other teams.”

Coach Dave Smart said the Ravens second-half defence epitomized the team’s character. “All year, they found a way. Everybody said, ëthey don’t do this, they don’t do that’. But at the end of the day, they found ways to win.”

Forward Aaron Doornekamp said the Ravens maintained their discipline, as they did all season. “We never gave up and we never got caught up in it. We were just tougher than anybody else.”

Post Kevin McCleery called it the ultimate “team win because we were relentless. It was like a Rob Saunders kind of win, where everyone digs in and everyone kind of pushes through. But I guess that’s how we all wanted to win it.”

Guard Elliott Thompson said the team’s trust in one another was “unbelievable. I’ve never been part of anything like this. It’s guys not being afraid to call other guys out, and guys respecting that, and responding, and that’s how you get better.”

Carleton’s defensive rotations were altogether suspect early as U.B.C. built an early 16-4 lead and quickly got several Ravens in foul trouble.

Saunders, though, kept them in it, hitting a trey, a putback rebound and a pair of free throws as Carleton rallied to within 24-18 after one quarter.

The Ravens got the open looks but repeatedly misfired or tossed the ball away as U.B.C. built a 34-25 lead on dazzling perimeter shooting and dribble penetration by Dyck before Saunders hit another trey to ignite an 11-3 run that drew Carleton within 37-36 at the half.

The Ravens took their first lead on a McCleery post-up as they opened the second half with an 8-0 run and began shutting down Dyck.

U.B.C., though, kept attacking off the dribble and rallied within three before Mike Kenny and Turnbull hammered treys that gave Carleton a 55-48 heading into the final frame.

They soon stretched their lead to 12 and when U.B.C. rallied within 73-66, the Ravens iced it by hitting 14 free throws over the final three minutes of play.

Thunderbirds coach Kevin Hanson said the Ravens mental toughness was phenomenal. “Chris got a bit banged up, beat up. I though their defence picked up in the third quarter and sort of took us out of game plan offensively. They made us work for every point we got in that quarter.”

Dyck said the Ravens “grinded” out a win. “That’s what it is. There is a lot of calls, a lot of stoppages and then they got back on the free throw line. I guess there’s a reason why they’ve won a bunch of years in a row. But I’m really proud of what we accomplished this weekend.”

Turnbull paced Carleton with 22 points. Saunders added 18, McCleery 15, Thompson 11 and Doornekamp 11. Dyck led U.B.C. with 21. Josh Whyte added 15 and Blain Labranche 13.

Joining Turnbull on the all-tournament team were McCleery, Dyck, Calgary’s Ross Bekkering and Western’s Matt Curtis. Saunders was chosen player of the game for Carleton, while Dyck earned the laurels for U.B.C.



  1. 1 1wmj

    Chris, I read the article you posted. Thinking you wrote it, ha. “No way Chris wrote this, and he even interviewed folks,” is what I was thinking. Then I saw the bottom. “Okay, this makes sense.” Ha. Good photos dude, I’m sure it was crazy.

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