Pre-season jitters

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The women’s basketball team display their youth and inexperience in a pre-season tournament Kai Benson and Sean Tepper report

Day 1: Rams 71 Paladins 52

The Rams kicked off the Darcel Wright Memorial Classic Tournament with a convincing 71-52 victory over the Royal Military College (RMC) Paladins.

The Rams started off the game poorly, finding it difficult to stop RMC’s offense. They struggled at both ends of the court, taking several minutes to score their first basket.

Despite the initial setbacks, Ryerson only trailed the Paladins by two points at the end of the first quarter.

Down 18-16, the Rams entered the second quarter with newfound confidence as they opened up the frame on a 7-0 run. With their offense firing on all cylinders and their aggressive defense causing turnovers, the Rams were able to outscore the Paladins 18-5 and entered halftime up by 11 points.

Long-time head coach Sandy Pothier was presented with an award and a $5,000 bursary in her name during halftime.

“I’m very honoured and completely touched. It was just a total surprise,” Pothier said. “I really haven’t had time to process, but obviously this will be going into women’s basketball.”

The Rams took the lead from RMC and did not look back, as they expanded their lead to 20 points during the third quarter.

The Rams maintained their lead for the rest of the game and defeated the Paladins by 19 points, 71-52.

“For [the] first [game], I feel okay,” said interim head coach Charles Kissi. “It was a good confidence builder.”

Aggressive defense was pivotal to the Rams’ success, as their defense created 27 turnovers in the game and allowed them to score easy fast break points.

Ashley Macdonald was the game’s top scorer with 21 points.

Day 2: Laval 90 Rams 66

The Rams got a taste of la belle province last Saturday as they got blown out by the Laval Rouge et Or 90-66 in their second game of the Darcel Wright Memorial Classic Tournament.

The Rams were plagued by sloppy passing, dismal shooting and avoidable turnovers early on, which allowed the Rouge et Or to open the game on a 15-2 run.

The size difference between the players played a huge role as Laval grabbed many offensive rebounds, which led to a bunch of secondchance points.

“[We] were a little intimidated by the size of the other team,” coach Kissi said. “We have to be aggressive and attack.”

Hoping to put the pressure on Laval, the Rams switched to a full court press at the start of the second quarter. While it put Laval on their heels, the Rams missed many easy layups that could have cut into the lead.

Laval was able to convert defensive rebounds into fast-break opportunities and expanded their lead by 12 by halftime.

“We missed a lot of layups,” Kissi said. “We have to make layups, period. If we make half of those layups it’s a different game.”

The third quarter saw the Rams make a comeback largely on the back of second-year forward Kelsey Wright, who scored a game-high 22 points, including five three-pointers. The wheels completely fell off in the final frame as the Rams came unglued defensively. Five of Laval’s 12 players reached double-digits in the quarter as they went on to win the game.

“As a young team we are lacking communication,” Wright said.

“We have a lot of growing to do,” added Kissi. “I don’t care about wins or losses, just about getting better.”

Day 3: Calgary 84 Rams 54

Ryerson was blown out for the second game in a row as the Calgary Dinos crushed the Rams in an 84-54 as six Calgary players hit double-digits in scoring.

The Rams fell behind early as Calgary’s superior ball movement left them spinning in their own end. The Dinos’ ability to attack the lane, combined with their deadly three-point shooting, made them a very hard team to defend.

While everything was working for the Dinos, the Rams were plagued by a lack of movement in the offensive zone, which led to costly turnovers.

In what was a low-scoring second quarter, missed layups were prominent on both sides as neither team could find a way to score down low. While the Dinos struggled more than the Rams, Ryerson failed to cut Calgary’s lead and capitalize on several fast-break opportunities. The Rams trailed by 10 at halftime.

Calgary came out swinging in the second half, putting up 13 unanswered points, crushing any hope of the Rams mounting a comeback.

As the intensity picked up,

tensions flared between Ryerson’s Kelsey Wright and Calgary’s Ashley Hill.

After fighting for the ball, the pair were both assessed technical fouls for shoving each other after the play.

The Dinos pulled away in the third quarter and ended the game with a 30 point lead.

At the end of the game, Rams’ guard Ashley MacDonald and the Dinos’ forward Ashley Hill won tournament all-star awards.

“I don’t think it’s about any one person. We all have to work together,” MacDonald said.

Interim head coach Charles Kissi said despite the loss, the team is moving in the right direction.

“We don’t communicate well as a team yet. It’s about learning to trust,” he said.

“There’s only so much you can simulate in practice.”

“We need to get out and play more games like this.”

Photo: Chelsea Pottage

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