Four-time defending champ Ravens to meet Ottawa rival Gee-Gees in CIS hoops final

TORONTO — They led by as many as 27 points Saturday night on their way to clinching a spot in the Canadian university men’s basketball final.

But the Carleton Ravens weren’t satisfied.

Philip Scrubb poured in 29 points, doled out 13 assists and pulled down eight rebounds to lift the top-ranked Ravens to an 83-74 victory over the fourth-seeded Victoria Vikes on Saturday, leaving the Ravens one win away from their fifth consecutive CIS title.

And minutes after the final buzzer sounded on what was Scrubb’s second-last game of his college career, the guard from Richmond, B.C., lamented the mistakes his team made.

“We didn’t play well enough in the second half and if we play like that (Sunday), we’re likely going to lose,” Scrubb said. “We’ve got a lot of things to work on and each individual guy knows what they’ve got to do.”

Carleton will face the No. 3-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees for the second consecutive year after Ottawa edged the seventh-seeded Ryerson Rams 84-75.

Scrubb’s older brother, Thomas, who will also graduate this season, grabbed 12 rebounds for Carleton.

Marcus Tibbs led Canada West champion Victoria with 27 points.

“We were a little sloppy offensively I thought as well in the second half. That allowed them to get some open looks and some opportunities at the other end,” said Carleton coach Dave Smart. “Sometimes bad offence leads to bad defence because you are always in the transition mode and recovering mode.”

The Ravens roared out to a 27-15 lead after one quarter, then took a 48-32 advantage into the dressing room at halftime in front of a packed house at Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre that included a small but noisy red-clad Carleton contingent, who stood and chanted all game long. One fan held a sign: “You got Scrubbed.”

Philip Scrubb, who had already collected 14 points plus 10 assists by halftime, then contributed eight points of Carleton’s 10-2 run to open the third. The Ravens, who’d beaten Victoria 80-64 at an October tournament, led 67-50 heading into the fourth.

The late game saw the Rams lead 45-38 at halftime in their first CIS semifinal in front of a crowd that included Toronto Raptors players James Johnson and Bruno Caboclo.

Vikas Gill drilled four three-pointers in a third quarter that saw Ottawa outscore the home team 25-12 and lead 61-57 with one quarter left. Johnny Berhanemeskel topped the Gee-Gees with 20 points, while Gill would finish with 18 points.

Adika Peter-McNeilly scored 17 to top the Rams, including a three with about 3:49 to play that tied the game at 67-67.

But a basket and two free throws by Michael L’Africain capped an 8-0 Ottawa run that gave the visitors a 78-69 lead with 47 seconds to play.

Smart said it’s fitting that two Ontario teams will face off in the final — Carleton, Ottawa and Ryerson were ranked 1-2-3 virtually all season.

“I think Ontario’s had the best teams all year,” the coach said. “Certainly Ryerson and Ottawa are two really good basketball teams and we’re fortunate enough to be there as well. I think Ontario, I don’t think it’s been a fluke that it’s gone this way. The Ontario teams have been the best teams most of the year and I think it’s holding true here.”

The Vikes didn’t go down without a fight. Seven straight points by Tibbs pulled them to within 11 points with about four minutes to play, breathing some life into the Victoria fans in the building — many wearing Vikes hats. A pair of free throws by Reiner Theil with about a minute to play pulled Victoria to within nine, but that was as close as they would come.

The Ravens have claimed 10 of the past 12 CIS titles, including a stretch of five in a row from 2003-07.

Earlier Saturday, Dadrian Collins scored 29 points to lead the Saskatchewan Huskies to a 99-94 win over the Windsor Lancers and fifth place at the CIS men’s basketball championship.

The medal games are set for Sunday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, which is also the basketball venue for this summer’s Pan American Games.

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