By Dexter LeRuez
The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold men’s basketball team picked up one of the biggest wins in recent history by beating the defending national champions and No. 2 ranked team in the country, the Carleton Ravens 86-80 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
Carleton has dominated the rest of the country since the turn of the century, winning 10 of the last 11 national championships. Saturday’s loss is the first time the Ravens have lost back-to-back games since January 2016 and only the second time they’ve done so in the last 20 years.
On the other hand, the Bold had their five-game winning streak snapped on Friday night by the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. But TMU was determined to bounce back on Saturday.
“We lost yesterday but we knew we had to get this one back,” said guard David Walker. “It’s in us, you know? We do this.”
Early in Saturday’s contest, it seemed that TMU might’ve been unable to hold up against the Ravens. Carleton came out on firing all cylinders taking an 11-0 lead to start the game.
The Ravens utilized an aggressive defensive mindset that forced six turnovers out of the Bold in the first quarter alone.
The second quarter started off poorly as well for the Bold, with TMU going down by as many as 18 points before clawing their way back to be down by 11 going into the half.
For head coach David DeAverio, the final twenty minutes proved whether the Bold had it in them to hang with the elite programs in U Sports.
“People were saying maybe we hadn’t played people at this level before, maybe we don’t belong with these guys,” said DeAverio. “At halftime we talked about that and maybe they’re right, maybe we don’t belong here,” he added. “Maybe we could play really good [defence] against teams that are below us but can we play really good D against teams that are above us?”
“They met the challenge and so we can build on this, it’s exciting,” he added.
In the second half, it was the unusual suspects who stepped up to help the Bold fight back. Third-year guard Lamar Everd scored 11 of TMU’s 21 points in the third quarter while veteran big man Akeem Clarke had an impactful nine minutes of action before fouling out.
“I love what Akeem does,” said TMU guard David Walker. “He’s a big body, he likes to grab boys and play defence. Lamar is the same way. They just love to execute down the stretch. I can count on those guys.”
However, TMU’s job wasn’t finished. The Ravens managed to extend their lead to six points and take back some of the Bold’s momentum going into the final quarter.
It was in the fourth quarter that the Bold’s maturity and mental fortitude showed through. They flipped the script on the Ravens, using Carleton’s chaos against them and collecting seven steals.
On the offensive side of the ball, it was Walker who stepped up for the Bold. He had struggled the night before, going 1-11 from the field in the Bold’s loss against Ottawa.
“Yesterday he felt like he let me down,” said DeAveiro. “I told him ‘No, you didn’t let me down. As a basketball player, you have some nights like that. You’re gonna find out a little bit about your character tomorrow when you come to play. Who are you?’”
Walker showed who he was in the final frame scoring eight of his 13 points including a critical steal in the dying minutes to give the Bold their first lead of the game.
“I feel like I bounced back good,” said Walker. “I played hella bad last game. But, take it one game at a time, it happens.”
Saturday’s win appears to be a turning point for the Bold, who haven’t managed to beat the Ravens in just under four years. However, DeAveiro is looking for more when it comes to TMU men’s basketball, specifically when it comes to the student council.
“I’m thrilled that we’re able to play Carleton in our gym and have this kind of crowd,” said DeAveiro. “I expect more. I could tell you that our [players] are gonna come in here and they’re gonna work real hard and play for their school and support their school.”
DeAverio said he would love to see more students at the games. This is still the community, it’s not the students. I challenge the students to come to games and support. We need them.”
UP NEXT: The Bold are back at the MAC on Jan 27 to take on the University of Windsor Lancers with tip-off set for 8 p.m.