by David Conlin, Vikes Communications
Photos by Christian J. Stewart, Independent Sports News
March 12, 2017, VICTORIA, BC – The No. 1 Carleton Ravens finished the 2017 U SPORTS Women’s Final 8 on a high note on Sunday, using a game-high 18 points from Catherine Traer to defeat the Queen’s Gaels 53-43 to claim bronze at the CARSA Performance Gym in Victoria.
It was a rematch of the OUA Final for the two teams after the Ravens downed the Gaels by a score of 49-41 in front of a sell-out crowd of 1,904 in Kingston, Ont. on March 4th.
“It was a very tough environment out there,” said Carleton head coach Taffe Charles. “They were looking to get an upset and they played very well. They tested us, they changed things up on us and they were a desperate team.”
Carleton outscored Queen’s 18-8 in the first quarter before struggling with just 16 points through the second and third quarters. But the Ravens found their offence again in the fourth quarter, putting up 19 points while holding the Gaels to seven.
“In the second quarter we kind of started to panic a little bit,” said Charles. “We kind of got in at halftime and I talked to the team about there being 40 minutes and they have to do this for 40 minutes.”
Traer, who was named Player of the Game for Carleton, scored her 18 points on 8-for-18 shooting, adding five rebounds and two assists.
“It was a really big character game,” said Traer. “Yesterday everybody was down (after losing in the semifinal) but we decided to unite as a team and bring our all today. We’ve played Queen’s. We know Queen’s and there is that rivalry. We wanted to do everything we could to make sure we would go out with a bronze medal.”
A former Ottawa Gee-Gees player, Traer was solid for Carleton all season, averaging 14.6 points per game with a career-high success rate of 41 per cent from the field on her way to an OUA First Team All-Star selection.
Also turning in strong games for Carleton were third-year guards Nicole Gilmore and Elizabeth Leblanc. Gilmore finished the season with a double-double on the strength of 11 rebounds and 12 points, while Leblanc had 10 rebounds and six points .
Playing in the final game of her U SPORTS career, fifth-year Gael Robyn Pearson was named Player of the Game for Queen’s after registering six points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Despite being high impact, with players frequently hitting the floor and the game undergoing a 5-minute delay while arena staff cleaned up blood from a slit lip suffered by Carleton’s Heather Lindsay, Sunday’s bronze medal battle was a low-scoring one that saw the two teams struggle to find consistency on offence. The Gaels shot just 25.9 per cent from the floor and the Ravens weren’t much better, finishing at just 28.6 per cent for the game.
Carleton outrebounded the Gaels 52-38, including a 36-29 margin in defensive boards. It was just the performance that the Ravens needed against a team that averaged 73.7 points per game during the regular season while limiting their opponents to just 56.2 points per game while on defence.
“There’s two things they have done all season long which is why they have been so good,” said Queen’s coach Dave Wilson, the 2017 U SPORTS Coach of the Year. “Their defence is really tough, it’s difficult to get good looks and they do a great job of switching out on people and keeping pressure on the ball.”
Despite the loss, Wilson was happy with the way his team performed in 2016-17.
“It was a great year for us overall,” said Wilson. “We set goals, made strides and were able to get almost all the way to the goal we set for ourselves. We look at this as an opportunity from which to build going forward.”