Rye men’s b-ball bounces into 2nd

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Ryerson’s men’s basketball team loses to Bishop’s, but scores 2nd place spot with win over Laval Rouge et Or. PHOTOS: SIMON HAYTER

By Steve Petrick

The Ryerson men’s basketball team was one possession short of pulling off a win against the defending national champions and making their presence felt by the country’s top teams.

Ryerson lost a heartbreaker at home to the nationally eighth-ranked Bishop’s Gaiters 82-77 on Saturday. The loss snapped Ryerson’s five game winning streak. On Friday, the Rams hammered the winless Laval Rouge et Or, 86-61.

Kerr Hall Gym was packed for the Bishop’s game. But half the fans were cheering for the visitors.

This meant there was an eruption of noise with each basket, regardless of who scored it. The loudest noise came from the visitor’s faithful when, with three seconds left, Ryerson’s star guard Brian Smith had the ball stripped from his hands before he could serve up the potential game-winning shot.

“It hurts,” Smith said, shaking his head after the game. “I’ll be on this for a good two or three weeks.”

Smith led the Rams in scoring with 21 points. He also had six assists.

Ryerson started well, jumping ahead 6-0 after the tip-off. At the half they led 36-35. The lead went back and forth throughout the second half and Ryerson entered the final minute trailing by one.

With 12 seconds left in the game, the Rams’ aggressive defence forced Bishop’s to turn the ball over. Ryerson called a time-out, but was unable to execute its plan.

The Rams bench was silent as they watched the Gaiter’s and their fans go nuts after Smith lost the ball.

“A few times offensively we didn’t execute and that makes a huge difference, especially in a one possession game,” Rams rookie guard Ben Gorham said.

The weekend split gives the Rams an 8-5 record. The win on Friday boosted them into a second-place tie in the OUA East with the Carleton Ravens, who lost 69-62 at U of T on Sunday. Ryerson still has a game in hand on the Ravens.

Even with the loss, Rams head coach Terry Haggerty believes his young team has improved, especially on defence. Ryerson lost a November match by 20 points to Bishop’s in Quebec.

“[Bishop’s are] defending champions and they have a core of players back from that team, so when we played them in November they should have been fundamentally ahead of us. It shows you the progress we’ve made in the past two and a half months,” Haggerty said.

Smith said the loss is still a bitter one because a win may have finally propelled the Rams into the top ten rankings.

“We’re winning games and we’re not getting any respect from the other teams in the country. When you check the rankings, we’re not moving up. We beat Laurentian and moved up one spot. Bishop’s beat Laurentian and moved up four spots.”

Next week the Rams travel to Montreal to take on another tough opponent, the Concordia Stingers who are right behind Bishop’s in the Quebec division standings. Including winter break tournaments, Ryerson has won nine of its last 12 games.

“If we beat Concordia next week, even if [opponents] don’t want to give us respect, they’ll have to,” Smith said.

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