Certainly, this was not the way that the UVic Vikes wanted to end their season. For the second year straight, the Vikes men’s basketball team ended their season with a loss in the CIS Final Eight bronze-medal game. The Vikes were defeated by the Ryerson University Rams 82-68 on Sunday and finished the tournament ranking fourth.
After opening their tournament with a tight 57-56 win over the Dalhousie University Tigers, the Vikes were pitted against the four-time defending champion Carleton University Ravens in the nationally broadcast semifinal game. The Ravens flew out of the gates and the Vikes were unable to make up a 12-point deficit after the first quarter.
The Ravens feasted off of turnovers and offensive rebounds, scoring 24 second-chance points over the course of the game. The Vikes struggled in the defensive paint against the tenacious Ravens attack and were out-rebounded by the Ravens 46-30 overall. Right from the opening tip-off, Carleton used an up-tempo style that moved the ball at breakneck speed combined with lethal three-point shooting to start the game. At one point in the third quarter, the Vikes trailed by 27 points.
The Vikes were able to mount a reasonable comeback but trailed the entire game. The final score was 83-74 for the Ravens. In the CIS title game, the Ravens thrashed the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees 93-46.
Once again, Carleton established themselves as the gold standard in CIS men’s basketball, winning their fifth-straight CIS title, which is also their 11th in the past 13 years. Given the margin of victory for Carleton in the CIS finals, the Vikes can take some sort of solace in the fact that they presented the most serious challenge to Carleton at the national finals. The Vikes scored 24 more points than Carleton’s next closest competitor, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
In the bronze medal game, the score was close until the final stanza, with the Ryerson offense breaking through the Vikes defense. The Rams scored 26 points in the fourth quarter, including a 15-0 run, to breeze past the Vikes 82-68.
In his final game, Vikes Senior Chris McLaughlin was named game MVP for the Vikes after scoring 22 points. This loss against Ryerson was also the final CIS game for Leonard Smith, who previously transferred from Bishop’s University to UVic.
The Vikes finish the season with an overall record of 21-9, with a Canada West record of 15-5. With the departure of McLaughlin, the Vikes will certainly have big shoes to fill, both literally and figuratively, as throughout his time with the Vikes, the six foot 10 Canada West MVP was an offensive catalyst for the Vikes and a tenacious defender.