Basketball in Canada comes alive every spring at the U Sports Final 8 Championship Tournaments, when the best men’s and women’s university teams fight for banners, rings, and legacies on the hardwood. This year’s tournaments were hosted over the weekend in Ottawa at TD Place.
Ottawa is no stranger to hosting Final 8 Championship tournaments but this was the first time it has been hosted at TD Place at the new Lansdowne Park. It was also the first time that the men and women shared a venue for the event.
U Sports broke from tradition to host the men’s and women’s tournaments together, to operate both tournaments over one weekend. The decision was made in hopes that it would bring more attention to the women’s game. The tournaments will go to separate cities once again next year, but it could set a precedent for future tournament bids given the success of this weekend.
The on-court product on championship Sunday was fantastic, with the Brock Badgers against the Huskies of U Saskatchewan. The Badgers kept it interesting throughout much of the first half but the might of the Huskies was ultimately too much for Brock, who were newcomers to the final game. In the end, the Saskatchewan Huskies won the women’s final 82-64 over the Brock Badgers. It is the second championship for the Huskies, who won previously in 2016, also under the tutelage of head coach Lisa Thomaidas. This summer, she will serve as head coach of Team Canada women’s basketball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The men’s game was an instant classic. It was the first championship game ever for Dalhousie; the 15th for the Ravens.
The intensity was palpable early and did not let up. Both teams were fighting for every bucket, rebound, and loose ball with the championship on the line.
Dalhousie had never played in a national championship game before but you wouldn’t know it with the way they started. Dalhousie led by 12 at halftime but Carleton led a furious comeback to erase the Tigers’ advantage. Ravens guard Munis Tutu splashed a three to break a tie game with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The home crowd made its presence known at that point, coming alive as Carleton established a late lead to steal the championship from the Tigers. Final score saw the Carleton Ravens top the Dalhousie Tigers 74-65 in an exciting game that had TD Place rocking with excitement.