Oakville athlete tourney MVP as she and Ancaster teammate help Carleton sweep U Sports hoops titles


Published March 13, 2023 at 11:09 am

Oakville’s Kali Porcnic and Ancaster’s Jacqueline Urban are first-time national champs in Canadian university basketball — and part of a double triumph that was last completed 3½ decades ago.

On Sunday, the pair of guards were central to the Carleton Ravens capturing the Bronze Baby, the U Sports women’s basketball championship trophy. At Sydney, N.S., Porcnic, the Ravens’ catalytic point guard, scored a team-high 20 points and added a game-most eight assists to lead Carleton to a 71-59 victory against the Queen’s Gaels in the championship game, and also earn the tournament MVP award.

Urban, illustrating why she was named the Canadian rookie of the year prior to the championship tournament, was a linchpin defensively with a game-high three blocked shots and a team joint-high 10 rebounds. Both were also part of a fierce defensive effort that limited Queen’s, who was ranked No. 1 in the nation earlier this season, to 36.4 per cent effective shooting — including only 23.1% from inside the three-point arc.

Queen’s, a first-time finalist, rode the early lights-out shooting of fifth-year guard Laura Donovan, who had a match-most 23 points, to an early 31-21 lead. Urban hit a contested shot just before the end of the second quarter to put some wind into the Ravens’ sail and help pare the halftime margin to five points.

Carleton wrested control of the pace and took away Queen’s space in the third quarter. Porcnic (pictured) a diminutive distributor (listed at 5-foot-3) who can quickly accelerate through all manners of help defences, had 11 fourth-quarter points to close out the win. That capped off a week where she was also named a second-team all-Canadian, after earning all-star recognition in the OUA.

The triumph is the second title in the last five seasons (or six years) for the women’s basketball Ravens. It was also the first half of the longtime Ottawa hoops powerhouse becoming the first Ontario (OUA) conference member to have both basketball teams capture the national title in the same season.

While Porcnic, Urban, and Winona native Tatyanna Burke, a redshirt forward, were celebrating their title, Carleton also defeated the St. Francis Xavier X-Men 109-104 in double overtime in the men’s championship game in Halifax. That win gave Carleton its 17th men’s title in the last 20 seasons. It was also the first time that the men’s final had required double overtime, and the highest-scoring championship game in university basketball history.

The University of Victoria Vikes, in 1985, were the last program to have both the female and male teams win national titles in the same season. Victoria also did the double in 1980, ’81, and ’82, and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds completed it in 1972.

Hamilton coach’s team finds silver lining

St. Francis Xavier, which led by as many as 23 points in the first half, is reached the final under second-year head coach and Hamilton native Tyrell Vernon. The silver medal was St. FX’s highest finish at the national tournament since a bronze medal in 2012, when Vernon was the team’s point guard under legendary coach Steve Konchalski. Vernon, after being named an heir apparent to Konchalski in 2019, assumed the lead role in 2021.

The X-Men’s core group is largely from Southern Ontario. Forward David Muenkat, of Brampton, had 31 points and 11 rebounds in the final. Guard Avan Nava, a Mississauga native who spent his first two years of high school at St. Francis Xavier high school, also scored 30 points — including the triple with 1.3 seconds left in the first overtime that sent the game to a second extra session.

On the season, St. FX went 31-5 overall, with guards Antoine Vernon of Hamilton and Steven Levniac of Stoney Creek also contributing to a reliable rotation for the coaching Vernon. The club’s road to the final included an 107-98 win against Queen’s in the quarterfinal last Thursday, followed by a 77-65 win against No. 1-seeded Victoria in the semifinal on Saturday. The semifinal win put the Antigonish, N.S. squad in the men’s final for the first time since 2004.

Tyrell Vernon was also named Atlantic University Sport coach of the year after St. FX won the conference title.

(Photos: Vaughan Merchant, U Sports; U Sports.)

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