Voyageurs can’t keep pace with Ravens, settle for split

Laurentian Athletics roundup

Laurentian Voyageurs guard Same Ivey (15) handles the ball during OUA men's basketball action against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Laurentian Athletics photo

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It’s evidence of Kadre Gray’s ever-increasing expectations for the Laurentian University men’s basketball team that, while more than willing to take the positives from a weekend split against two of the nation’s top-ranked teams, the star guard wasn’t exactly thumping his chest on Saturday night.

Gray led the Voyageurs with 35 points in a well-earned 78-65 win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees, ranked fourth in Canada, in Sudbury on Friday night, then helped pace the LU offence again with 21 in a 95-69 loss to the powerful Carleton Ravens, No. 1 in the latest ranking of U Sports squads, in the Ben Avery Gym on Saturday.

“It’s not the way we wanted it to go,” said Gray, whose team entered the weekend with a No. 9 national ranking and exited with a record of 9-4, good for third in its division.

“We always want to go 2-0 every weekend, but it’s 1-1, we split, and now we’re going to go back and look at the film and go over a few things.

“It’s a new decade and we’re just trying to be consistent every game and take it one quarter at a time.”

Laurentian started strong in Saturday’s contest, leading its OUA East rival at points in the opening quarter and trailing just 40-32 at halftime. But an outburst from the tireless Ravens, coupled with a handful of LU misses on some good looks at the basket, resulted in a decisive 33-14 advantage for the visitors in the third.

The loss of Cedric Nga Mbiaba, who led Laurentian with six rebounds and scored six points before suffering an injury, only made things more difficult, and while the likes of Gray, with 12 points in the fourth frame, and Joseph Hlady, with 11, helped to keep the score respectable, the outcome was all but assured.

Hlady finished with 14 points, Sam Ivey 11 and Gaetan Chamand nine for the host side. 

Carleton spread the scoring among their starters, with Yasiin Joseph pouring in 17, Lloyd Pandi 15 and Stanley Mayambo 13, and showed their depth with a full 42 points off the bench as Isiah Osborne struck for 14 — 10 in that all-important third — and Ivan Cucak added 12.

Bolstered by Hlady’s three-for-three effort in the last quarter, LU outshot Carleton from three-point range in the contest, 37.5 per cent to 21.9, but the Ravens held a clear edge from the field overall, shooting at 47.4 per cent efficiency, compared to the Voyageurs’ 38.9.

The visiting side scored a full 21 points off turnovers, compared to only two for their hosts, in pushing their regular-season record to 11-0.

“I think there was maybe a bit of fatigue, from the Friday game,” admitted Gray, whose team usually has the unenviable task of facing both powerhouses from the nation’s capital on back-to-back nights. “But no excuses, we didn’t get it done tonight.

“We’re going to continue to work and I hope we get to play them again.”

The fourth-year health promotion major, now one of the most decorated players in the history of Laurentian’s men’s program, has watched team brass steadily add to their roster’s depth, only bolstering his confidence that a spot at the U Sports national championships is within reach.

“We have guys one through basically 15 who can do things,” Gray said. “It’s just about putting that together, especially against a team like this. We’re working on that and personally, I’m not worried. I see us in the nationals and maybe we’ll play them along the road some time, so we’ll be ready.”

In addition to Gray’s 35-point performance, the Voyageurs received key contributions from Nga Mbiaba, with 10 points, as well as Ivey and Hlady, with eight each, in their toppling of Ottawa on Friday.

Marlon Kordrostami, with 17 points, and Calvin Epistola, with 10, led the Gee-Gees, who had lost only twice heading into the weekend.

The Laurentian men visit Nipissing this coming Friday, with tipoff set for 8 p.m., in the first of three straight road games.

What might have been

A strong second-half response by the Laurentian women against Carleton on Saturday night left head coach Jason Hurley high on his team’s potential.

Heading to the room down 41-25 at halftime, the locals matched the country’s fourth-ranked team for much of the way down the stretch, with quarter scores or 22-22, then 16-15 in the Voyageurs’ favour — all despite the early loss of starting point guard Kayla Deschatelets — en route to a 78-63 defeat.

“You always want to compare yourself to excellence, and I think Carleton is what you try to compare yourself to,” Hurley said. “They play really hard. They play a good, blue-collar style, sort of old-school, smash-mouth, get-in-your-way basketball, and we came out in the second half and we did what they did to us. It’s hard and sometimes, basketball isn’t the prettiest sport out there, but when we try, we’re pretty good.”

Bailey Tabin scored 17 points, Helena Lamoureux and Danielle Reid had 12 points each and Gabby Schaffner added 10 for Laurentian, owner of a 2-11 record and fourth place in the OUA East.

Alyssa Cerino led Carleton with 23.

“They’re the fourth-ranked team in the country, they’ve got some pieces and we’re a little bit younger than them, though they start two first-year kids, but it’s just, do you really want to play at this level?” Hurley asked. “It’s sometimes not the most enjoyable experience and the first half was not enjoyable, but then we decided, well, let’s step up and play hard, and we did. We were able to give them a scare.”

He gave veteran Tabin credit for setting a good example, while also praising rookie Sidney Crawford for a solid six-point effort at point guard with Deschatelets out.

“We’re asking a lot of kids to do a lot of things and tonight, they stayed with it. We gave ourselves a chance and it didn’t come out our way, but it’s good to compete.”

Lamoureux was outstanding in a 97-72 loss to Ottawa on Friday, scoring 26 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Deschatelets scored 19 and Tabin 10 for the Voyageurs.

Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu led Ottawa, ranked third in the country, with 20 points.

The Laurentian women are at Nipissing this coming Friday, with start time set for 6 p.m.

Mixed results

Also at home, the Laurentian men’s hockey team dropped a 5-1 decision to Ontario Tech last Thursday, before beating RMC 5-3 on Saturday and 5-4 in overtime on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the women’s hockey team fell 4-0 to Nipissing, the No. 10-ranked team in Canada, in North Bay on Sunday.

The LU women host Waterloo this coming Friday, with opening faceoff at 7:30 p.m. The men aren’t in action until Jan. 24, visiting Ontario Tech for another 7:30 p.m. start.

Twitter: @ben_leeson