By Eli Shupak
It was a comeback of epic proportions.
With their season on the line, Ryerson’s men’s basketball team rallied from a 22-point second-half deficit to edge the York Yeoman 65-63 in a thriller last Saturday night at Kerr Hall Gym. The comeback is believe to be the biggest in school history.
Leading the charge was the Rams’ ultimate warrior Carl Harper, whose lay up with eight seconds left gave the Rams a two-point lead. York’s Chris Peskun’s open three-point shot in the dying seconds was off the mark and Ryerson held on to improve to 6-8.
It was a remarkable performance from the Rams’ captain, who scored all of his 16 points in the second half, while grabbing 15 rebounds and four steals. Harper played through a strained hamstring and headed straight to the trainer’s room for treatment after the game.
He banged up his knee the previous weekend and had just played in a very physical hard-fought 86-74 loss to division-leading Laurentian the night before.
“We were feeling the effects of [Friday’s game] and being kind of lazy [in the first half],” said Harper, who said he’ll be fine to suit up this weekend. “We went from a zone [defence] to a man-to-man and that got us more involved.”
Ryerson trailed York 36-19 after the opening 20 minutes, while shooting only 18 per cent (6/33) from the floor. The Yeomen opened the second half with five straight points, but then ran into a wall. Ryerson went on a 31-8 run over the next 12 minutes to go ahead and take control of the game.
“At halftime we had a real good vocal heart to heart,” said Ryerson coach Terry Haggerty. “We were playing like a bunch of pylons, playing very tired.
“It’s hard playing back to back and [Friday’s] game was a tough one to lose. But we realized the the consequences of dropping this game.”
Laurentian came in to Ryerson Friday night ranked as the number two team in the country. The Voyageurs withstood an early assault by the Rams en route to their seventh consecutive victory.
Ryerson led 43-38 after 20 minutes and by as much as seven midway through the second half. But it was turnovers that did the Rams in as Laurentian scored 24 points off 23 Ryerson giveaways, while the Rams were only able to convert 12 Laurentian turnovers into seven points.
“We came out hard against Laurentian and really wanted that game,” said Rams’ forward Daryl Gee, who scored 15 points and blocked three shots, but turned the ball over six times against the Voyageurs. “It took a lot out of us and it was hard to come back the next day.”
With his 26 rebounds over the weekend, Harper moved past Bill Barlow and into fourth all-time at Ryerson with 338 boards over his four-plus seasons as a Ram. He needs 52 rebounds over the team’s final six games to move into second ahead of Jamie Voskuil, Ryerson’s all-time leading scorer. David Fogolin’s 627 career rebound record (second in OUA history) set in the 1970s remains safe.
The Rams travel to Quebec this weekend for games at Bishop’s Friday night and Laval on Saturday. They return to Kerr Hall Gym for their final regular season home game against Queen’s on Feb. 20 at 8 p.m.
The Rams are currently tied with Queen’s University for the fourth and final playoff spot in the OUA East division. However, Ryerson (0-5 away from home) plays five of its last six on the road.
“I’m not too concerned,” said Haggerty. “It’s too far into the season to worry about where the hell you’re playing the game.”