By Chris Blanchette
Strong play from Ryerson guards Aaron Best and Adika Peter-McNeilly, as well as the return of big man Kadeem Green, propelled the Ryerson men’s basketball team to a 97-81 win over Queen’s Saturday night.
From tip off it was clear that Queen’s forward Ryall Stroud was going to create problems for Ryerson in the paint. Though Ryerson was clearly the much faster team, Queen’s ability to slow down play and set up Stroud in the post forced Ryerson to play a far more conservative game than they would have liked. After the first quarter, the Rams trailed 25-24. Stroud had 8 points and 2 rebounds in the frame.
The shooting percentages of both the Rams and Queens hovered around 40 per cent throughout the second quarter as scoring continued to pose no problem for either side. Ryerson’s guards came alive, forcing the tempo and connecting on fast break points to disrupt Queen’s rhythm both offensively and defensively. To top off the quarter, Peter-McNeilly hit a buzzer beating shot from half-court to give the Rams a 43-39 lead heading into halftime.
The second half belonged solely to the Rams. Ryerson’s triple-threat backcourt of Roshane Roberts, Best and Peter-McNeilly continued to carry the team’s scoring weight. Ryerson’s ability to push the tempo and force Queen’s into turnovers eventually lead to a two-handed baseline dunk from Green. This seemed to trigger a turning point in the game. Ryerson jumped out to a 14-point lead and applied a press that Queen’s struggled to break. At the end of the third quarter Ryerson still led Queen’s 68-59.
The Rams ran away with the game in the fourth quarter. Best had a game high 28 points, while Peter-McNeilly quietly almost accumulated a triple-double with 18 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and five steals. With the added help of Green who had 16 points and 3 rebounds, the Rams sealed a 97-81 victory over Queen’s. Ryerson now holds a 6-1 record, which is enough to hold sole possession of first in the OUA East.
Ryerson head coach Patrick Tatham says that Ryerson’s 6-1 record is no fluke, citing the play of Peter-McNeilly and Best as prime examples of just how good the Rams can be.
“Adika and Aaron are playing at a very high level right now. Aaron is just hungry to be back, he missed the first four games of the first half of the season. This is his senior year so he’s playing for a contract.”
Tatham also added that the return of Green and Ryerson center Adam Voll has been a huge help, “Kadeem is a rim protector. In the first half we missed him and Adam [Voll]. We had been playing very small so it’s a luxury to have both Kadeem and Adam back at the same time, I mean we had eight blocks tonight.”
The return of Green was huge for the Rams. He made timely defensive plays while guarding Stroud and helped them match up well down low, while bringing the height that this Rams team seemed to be lacking.
“It’s good to be around a good group of guys and a coaching staff that has confidence in me and believes in me,” said a smiling Green after the game.
It is imperative that Ryerson plays their best stretch of basketball over the next week. The Rams will go to battle against two of the best teams in the country in Carleton and the University of Ottawa, who are currently ranked first and third in the CIS.
“Every day is preparation for us and we’re going to use every bit of time we have to prepare. You can never be too prepared for two of the top teams in the country,” said Best.
The Rams will take on Carleton on Jan. 22, and Ottawa on Jan. 23, at home.