Calgary 67 Ryerson 65
With less than five seconds left in the game and the Ryerson Rams down by one the ball was in the hands of their regular season leading scorer.
Fifth-year Jean Victor-Mukama dribbled between his legs and gathered for a shot, but as he did that the whistle blew – Mukama had stepped out of bounds – and it was Calgary Dinos ball.
The turnover ended the Rams hopes of a comeback, a call that Rams head coach Roy Rana said his team didn’t agree with. “I didn’t actually see it.” Rana said, “But everyone on our bench had the impression that he was in bounds.”
The game wasn’t always that close, with the Dinos leading by as much as 17 points. A major part of that lead was their ability to slow down Ryerson’s offence.
Calgary held the Rams to just 24 points in the opening half and did so by taking away one of Ryerson’s top weapons. “Ryerson looked really good on film with [Myles] Charvis was able to get into the lane and kick out for a three,” said Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren.
One reason the Dinos were able to zone in on Ryerson’s fifth-year point guard was because his running mate Mukama dealt with foul trouble early in the game.
Just 3:30 into the game the 6-foot-8 guard picked up his second foul and was sent to the bench. Mukama played just 10 minutes in the opening half, recording two points on 0-3 shooting.
“Mukama getting into foul trouble was beneficial for us, that really changed how their offence flowed,” Vanhooren said.
With the Rams offence struggling, the Dinos were able to pull ahead thanks largely to the play of Brett Layton and Mambi Diawara.
Diawara took home his second straight player of the game award, powered by his 17 points and seven steals (one more than the entire Rams team combined).
And Layton added 17 points of his own complimented by 12 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive side on the court.
“He’s a very experienced player,” Rana said about the 27-year-old. “He’s an older guy who’s been playing for a long time. He’s one of the better post players in the country.”
Calgary will look to make it back-to-back seasons as the national champions and wrap up their perfect season Sunday night.
Carleton 76 Dalhousie 65
After winning by 40 in their quarterfinal game, the Carleton Ravens had to fight for every inch in their win over the Dalhousie Tigers.
“[Dalhousie] has a pretty good history here.” Ravens head coach Dave Smart said after the game. “They’ve always been a tough opponent, we knew what we were getting into and it was everything as expected.”
With 10 minutes to play the No. 5 Tigers held a three-point lead over the No. 1 ranked Ravens and were looking to hold on and complete the major upset.
But that’s when Smart relied on his experience and changed the plan for the final 10 minutes.
“We ended up doing something we haven’t run all year.”
Smart noted that the team went to a style of play that he has used during his 15 years with the Ravens but it wasn’t a concept they relied on this season until Saturday in the fourth quarter.
Smart added, “until then we weren’t able to get anything going, the zone gave us more problems than we thought it would.”
As the final quarter wound down it was a two-possession ball game.
Eddie Ekiyor was the reason for a big four-point swing late in the fourth when he blocked a Tigers’ dunk and put home a layup just seconds later. That swing gave the Ravens a six-point lead instead of the Tigers cutting it to two.
The 6-foot-9 power forward put an exclamation mark on the game with just under a minute left to play when he got fouled on a dunk (and converted on the free throw), bringing the Ravens’ lead to 10.
Smart said about his semi-final MVP, “We’re certainly trying to play through Eddie, and see what the other team is doing in terms of how they want to play him and that tends to open things up.”
The Ravens dominated the final quarter, outscoring the Tigers 23-9, but things didn’t come to Carleton easy for the opening 30 minutes.
The Ravens averaged an OUA best 10.8 turnovers a game in the regular season and nearly matched that total in the first half with nine, and only forced one of their own. That resulted in the Tigers being +6 in points off of turnovers after 20 minutes.
“They’re just so solid with their defence.” Smart said, “They take certain things away but make it look like they’re taking other things away. As a group, we had a tough time figuring out where we wanted to go with the ball.”
Paired with their defence, the Tigers shot 9-20 from beyond the arc in the opening three quarters. But the Tigers three-point shooting went cold in the final 10 minutes, going 0-9 while the team as a whole scored just nine points in the entire quarter.
“This is where experience will help,” Dalhousie’s head coach Rick Plato said. “We settled for some early jumpers and couldn’t get rebounds, in a close game three or four possessions make the difference.”
The matchups for Sunday are as follows:
GOLD MEDAL GAME: No. 1 Carleton Ravens vs No. 2 Calgary Dinos
BRONZE MEDAL GAME: No. 3 Ryerson Rams vs No. 5 Dalhousie Tigers