By Sean Fitz-Gerald
If it’s true that winning breeds success, there was a whole lotta humping going on in Kerr gym on Friday night.
Before the Ryerson men’s basketball team played the York Yeomen, members of last year’s OUA East-winning squad assembled at centre court to watch their championship banner unfurled at the north end of the gym.
Then, after a slow start, York was left feeling a bit like a used up one-night stand as Ryerson boosted its record to 2-1 with a 73-57 win.
York controlled the first half of the match. After slowing the pace to their liking, the Yeomen watched as a frustrated Ryerson offence missed several easy buckets in a very boring 20 minutes of basketball.
Injuries and early fouls caused Rams head coach Terry Haggerty to rotate his starting five early and often. Starting point guard Sam Gilbert had two fouls and tacked on to his game sheet before the game was even 10 minutes old and last year’s OUA East playoff MVP Jan-Michael Nation was still nursing a nasty groin injury.
At the end of the half, York boasted a 27-23 lead to all those in the crowd of 150 or so who were still awake.
“They were slowing us down,” said Nation, now a second-year forward on the team. “We’re a face-paces team and it wasn’t our type of offence.”
The second half saw Ryerson take control at both end of the court. The Rams out hustled and out scored the reeling Yeomen 50-30 to claim the win.
The Yeomen made just 31 per cent of their field goals in the second, compared to the 41 per cent Ryerson shot. As a bonus statistic, Ryerson also out re-bounded York 56-35 through the game.
York had ended the Rams’ eight-game winning streak earlier this month with a 62-58 win in the championship game at the Raptors Cup tournament inside the Air Canada Centre.
As a token payback, second-year guard Ben Gorham capped Friday’s game off with a powerful right-handed tomahawk slam dunk with less than a minute to play.
“Really, it’s just a statement,” said Gorham, who finished with 15 points in the win. “We lost to [York] at the Air Canada Centre and we had no business doing that.”
After the game, York coach Bob Bain said he knew Ryerson would pick up the pace in the second, but hoped his team could contain them.
“Ryerson really stepped it up and used their quickness,” Bain said. “They physically beat us in all aspects.”
With a winning record, the Rams will now attempt to end their first semester schedule this weekend on a high note.
Last year, Ryerson stumbled into the break, but rebounded with the conference, hence the banner and the crowd of proud alumni who watched the York game.
“[The banner] means a lot,” said Rob Armstrong, co-captain of last year’s team. “You go to other schools and see they have a winning tradition and we just hope we can start a dynasty here now.”
The Rams will tangle with the Bishop’s Gaiters Friday night and the Laval Rouge et Or Saturday night, both games are at 8 p.m. in Kerr gym.