By Elio Elia
The Carleton Ravens women’s basketball team’s push for a championship ended against the No. 1 ranked Saskatchewan Huskies in the first day of the U Sports Final 8.
The Huskies beat the 8th-seeded Ravens by a score of 73-59 to advance to play the Laval Rouge et Or in the national semifinals.
The Huskies established their powerful presence quickly, taking the game right to the Ravens and outscoring the home team 30-11 in the first quarter. Sabine Dukate led the way for Saskatchewan early, scoring a trio of three-pointers and outscoring the Ravens by herself with 13 points in the game’s first period.
The Ravens began to claw back in the second quarter by being able to close the score gap to 46-32. Carleton’s backcourt tandem of first-year Kali Pocrnic, from Oakville, and third-year Madison Reid, from Carleton Place, were the Ravens’ driving force behind their attempted comeback.
But despite the Ravens attempts to overcome the margin the Huskies had built, it always felt as though the latter team was on cruise control. By the end of the third quarter, the score difference between the two teams had grown to 17 points, with the Huskies up 58-41.
Carleton’s attempts in the fourth quarter were for naught, with the Huskies pushing their lead to 25 points at one point and holding on to bounce this year’s hosts from the championship tournament.
While the Huskies’ maintained dominance throughout the entire game, the Ravens displayed resilience and a never-say-die attitude by diving for balls and continuing to orchestrate an offence into the game’s final seconds, even as a comeback was out of reach.
Pocrnic’s 14 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds earned her Ravens’ player of the game honours, while Reid was Carleton’s top scorer with 18 points.
Other Ravens’ rookies who had strong performances included Winona’s Tatyanna Burke and Gatineau’s Dorcas Buisa, who combined for 9 points. Locally-raised Navneet Sandhu was the only Ottawa player to make more than a minute-long appearance on the floor for the Ravens, and she only played for three minutes.
Fourth-year Waterdown guard Marlee Ball had a solid showing with 11 points and 5 rebounds, while Alyssa Cerino, the team’s conference all-star, only managed to play 12 minutes because of a leg injury. With it being her 5th year, the loss represents the final time Cerino will step on a U Sports court in championship contention.