By Noah Love
It’s late in the second half and Ryerson’s men’s basketball team has a slim lead over the host University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
Suddenly Rams forward Sasha Ivankovic steals the ball from the U of T point guard and walks in for what appears to be an easy two points.
But as he jumps up for the dunk, his arms extend too far and the ball clanks off the rim and rebounds out.
Mock cheers and taunts start to echo from the stands.
After the game, as Ivankovic does a postgame interview, the taunts continue.
“You missed the dunk,” someone interrupts. “At a pivotal time, I must say.”
The teasing, however, isn’t from U of T’s booster squad — it’s Ivankovic’s teammate Tom Cory.
As the two players break into laughter, one thing becomes apparent. The Rams are in a relaxed mood and are finally hitting their stride.
Ryerson came out of its busiest weekend of the year with consecutive wins over the Royal Military College Paladins, Queen’s University Golden Gaels and Varsity Blues.
Sunday’s 61-54 victory over U of T improved the Rams’ record to 12-6, putting them alone in third place in the OUA East Division, and two points behind the second-place York Yeomen. The top four teams make the playoffs.
With four games remaining, the Rams just need to win two games to guarantee themselves an eighth consecutive appearance in the East Division playoff tournament. This year’s event will be hosted by the University of Ottawa on March 1 to 2.
It appears the Rams are peaking at just the right time. The three wins extends their winning streak to five games.
The play of second-year power-forward Bill Crowdis has been a large factor in recent success. Crowdis topped the team’s scoresheet in Friday’s 76-52 win over RMC by notching 20 points. His 13 points on Sunday tied him with Jan-Michael Nation as the team’s top scorer. Nation added a team-high 25 points in Saturday’s 69-54 win over the Gaels.
Crowdis also made his presence felt in the key, pulling down 35 rebounds in the three games, making him the second-ranked rebounder in Canada with an average of 11.8 a game.
“My role on the team is much different than last year,” Crowdis said after physically dominating the Blues’ offense on Sunday night. “Last year I was a big scorer, and this year I’m a big defender.”
The seven-point win over Toronto was especially important for the Rams.
OUA rules state that if two teams finish the regular season with the same record, the tie breaker is determined by the point spread in the team’s season series. Because U of T edged Ryerson by four points in a game at Kerr gym last semester, the Rams needed to win by at least five.
The Rams will also win tiebreaking procedures if they finish tied with Laurentian or York. Ryerson outscored both teams in head-to-head matches this year.
“We came into the weekend hoping for three wins and the tiebreaker,” Ivankovic said. “We got exactly what we wanted.”
This weekend’s games are the last home dates for the Rams this year. On Friday they face the 11-6 McGill Redmen, while on Saturday the 10-7 Concordia Stingers visit Kerr gym. Both games tip off at 8 p.m.