Errol, minus afro, scored 16 points. Next night, with afro, 27 points. Hmm...

Photo: Steve Petrick

Nation leads Rams out of the woods

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Clutch performer motivates team to double OT win after disastrous home opener

By Noah Love

Jan Michael Nation led and the rest of the men’s basketball team followed.

After taking an 81-52 beating at the hands of McMaster University, in their Friday night home opener. In Saturday’s game they stormed back from a 20-point second half deficit to beat Lakehead University 94-92 in double overtime.

Nation averaged 20.5 points per game, but more importantly, he spurred the Rams to claw away a victory from the Thunderwolves with good shotmaking and a refusal to give up for the second game in a row.

“We were looking like robots and it looked like it was going that way on Saturday,” said rookie guard Errol Fraser, who led Ryerson with 27 points and scored the game-winning shot. “Jan set the tone. He just said ‘Yo, fuck it. Let’s go,’ and we just followed him.”

Ryerson was down by as much as 24 points with less than 15 minutes remaining, but managed to tie the score at 76 by the end of regulation. The crowd was, for the most part, pro-Thunderwolves.

“Lakehead was playing quite well and then we took their big guy out of the game,” said head coach Terry Haggerty. Lakehead’s “big guy,” Dan Zapior, led all scorers with 30 but had trouble with consistency during the overtime periods, which were dominated by Fraser and Nation.

With 34 seconds left in the game, the Rams trailed by two points. Fraser tied the game and then, after Lakehead missed on their possession, he hit a last second jump shot to win the contest.

“They were cocky when they were up 24,” Fraser. “They had a different type of swagger, but we showed a lot of character.”

Nation, who also led the team in rebounding on the weekend, was not pleased with either game.

“I want to apologize to our fans, on behalf of the team, for our performance on Friday night,” Nation said. “We didn’t play with heart. We got blown out because we had no intensity. I’m glad we got the win [against Lakehead] but we should have taken care of business in the first half.”

The 29-point loss to the Marauders was demoralizing, but the team seemed incapable of helping itself offensively.

“They were playing okay defense, but we shut us down,” Haggerty said. “We have to let the guys just play. We need to simplify. It might make us a bit predictable, but offensively we’ll be more consistent.”

The coaching staff has had problems getting the team to focus during team practices.

“The struggle is practising properly,” Haggerty said. “Guys are thinking too much. On Friday [they] looked like a deer caught in the headlights. The last two weeks of November are a tough time every year because everyone seems to have a lot on their mind.”

The Rams’ record is 2-2 after four league games. They are one game behind OUA east division leaders York and Carleton universities, who each have a 3-1 league record.

“It’s early in the year,” Nation said. “We haven’t played our potential yet. We’ll come together.”

On Friday, the Rams host cross-town rival the University of Toronto Varsity Blues (2-2) and on Saturday they face the slumping Queen’s University Golden Gaels (1-3). These are Ryerson’s final two home games of the year.

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