By Josh Weinstein
The Ryerson women’s basketball team (4-1) faced off against the top team in Canada Saturday night and almost came away with a win. But in the end, the Windsor Lancers (4-0) came out on top 77-74.
Led by Keneca Pingue-Giles’ 21 points, a near double-double by Sofia Paska (13 points, 8 rebounds), and a raucous crowd, the Rams put forth a strong effort against the team that has won the last four national championships.
Pingue-Giles emphasized taking care of the basketball and avoiding turnovers in order to sustain success.
“We have to be strong with it [the ball].,” she said. “In the end there we turned the ball over too many times and it broke us.”
Windsor led 17-3 halfway through the first quarter. The Rams responded by going on a 7-0 run to trim the deficit to 17-10. Giles’ three first quarter steals helped inspire her teams’ defensive effort as the Rams trailed 38-35 going into halftime after shooting only 36 per cent from the floor.
Ryerson started the second half with strong play on both ends of the floor, helping them take their first lead of the game 40-38. The Rams outscored the Lancers 18-15 in the third and were tied with Windsor heading into the fourth quarter.
The Rams, led by Giles’ 11 fourth quarter points, extended their lead to nine, (66-57) over the Lancers. Windsor fought back with an 11-2 run to cut the deficit to two points with 2:30 to go in the game.
The experienced Lancers squad ultimately outplayed Ryerson down the stretch and won 77-74, after a last second three-pointer by the Rams rimmed out.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, head coach Carly Clarke emphasized the importance of playing a top team like Windsor this early in the season.
“We’ve been talking all season to this point about having belief without evidence, because this women’s basketball program has never been ranked in the top 10, won a second-round playoff game, or won a championship,” she said. “We found out today that we have some evidence and can play with the best team in the country.”
Ryerson will look to build on their inspiring performance when they host Laurentian next Friday at 6 p.m. at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.