Defending champion Carleton hangs on to earn spot in basketball championship semis

Defending national champions Carleton University hung on to keep their title defence alive, earning a spot in the semifinals at the U Sports Men's Basketball Championships on Thursday night.

The Ravens trailed for much of the first half, but came back in the second half to beat the University of Calgary Dinos 73-65.

Carleton was led by guard Mitch Wood, who scored a game-high 19 points, including four three-pointers. Forward AJ Lawson added 18 points and nine rebounds for the Ravens, who outscored the Dinos 41-27 in the second half to pull away.

The Ravens will now face the Dalhousie Tigers in the semifinals. Dalhousie upset the top-ranked Ryerson Rams in the quarterfinals, winning 74-73 on a buzzer-beater.

Carleton head coach Dave Smart was pleased with his team's effort, saying they showed “mental toughness” to overcome a difficult first half.

“Calgary was playing really well and making shots, and we just didn't have the energy and intensity to match them,” Smart said. “But I was really proud of our guys for not giving up and making enough plays in the second half to get the win.”

The Ravens are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back U Sports titles since the University of Victoria in 2007 and 2008. The Ravens won their first title in 2017, and are now one win away from a repeat.

The Ravens and Tigers will face off in the semifinals tonight at 8 p.m. ET. The winner will face either Ryerson or the University of Saskatchewan in the championship game on Saturday night.