By Daniel Rocchi
The Ryerson men’s basketball team were trailing by four points at halftime to the Guelph Gryphons at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Wednesday night, despite having only lost two games all season.
In the second half, they showed the Guelph Gryphons why.
The Rams thundered back to beat the Gryphons 82-63, outscoring their opponent 41-18 in the second half en route to their eighth straight win.
Guelph falls to 7-7 on the year and sits third in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Central division. With the victory, Ryerson improves to 14-2 and extended their lead in the OUA East to 12 points.
But the Rams were less than pleased with the first half that forced a come-from-behind triumph.
“I thought the second quarter really was about us turning the ball over,” said Ryerson head coach Roy Rana. “We turned the ball over six times, gave them second possessions and were a little sloppy on the offensive end.
“Once we cleaned that up, we were alright.”
Rana’s players agreed that their first two quarters weren’t good enough, but they didn’t let it carry over into the second half of the game.
“We came out flat defensively to start the game,” said fourth-year Ryerson forward Kadeem Green, who had a game-high 19 points. “We just came out and focused more on defense than offense and let the game come to us.”
Fifth-year Rams guard Jordan Gauthier led all players with nine steals to go along with seven points, two assists and a pair of steals. Guelph guard Taylor Boers led his team with 14 points, all of them in the second quarter.
Ryerson started strong defensively, forcing a Guelph shot-clock violation on the game’s first possession. The Rams led for the entire quarter, but Guelph came to within two points of tying it on multiple occasions. Ryerson managed to limit the Gryphons’ opportunities in the key, but struggled to maintain their man-coverage as Guelph kept themselves in the game with threes.
The result was a 22-18 edge for Ryerson after 10 minutes of play, highlighted by a spectacular dunk by Green with just over two minutes left in the frame.
But Ryerson’s coverage in the blue paint evaporated in the second quarter, and Boers and the Gryphons drove the net time after time to take a 45-41 lead to the locker room.
It didn’t last long.
The teams traded field-goals in the early minutes of the third quarter to make it 50-46 before Ryerson exploded for a 17-0 run, keeping Guelph off the board for nearly eight minutes to emerge with a 66-55 lead after three quarters.
The Rams never looked back after that, doubling up Guelph 16-8 in the final frame to defeat the Gryphons for the fourth straight time dating back to 2011.
“This is a very special group of guys,” said Rana after the win. “I’m confident that they have the mental toughness and the resilience to be able to go through anything.”
Ryerson is back in action on Feb. 7 when they take on the Lakehead Thunderwolves at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. It’s the first of the Rams’ last three regular-season games of the season, all of them at home.