By Chris Blanchette
The Ryerson women’s basketball team earned their first CIS silver medal in school history, after an 85-71 loss to the Saskatchewan Huskies in the championship game on Sunday afternoon.
“I’m so proud of these kids, and they have worked so hard. You know, we lost first but we won second, and they have come so far and are deserving. And hopefully are proud to wear the silver medal,” said an emotional head coach Carly Clarke after the game.
Cara Tiemens and Sofia Paska were huge for the Rams in the first half. They combined for 16 points (6-9), Paska providing an elite needed presence in the paint and Tiemens efficiently shooting the ball from outside with two three-pointers.
Halfway through the second quarter the Rams clung to a 31-22 lead. However their shooting hit a snag midway through the second and the Huskies were able to capitalize – cutting the Rams lead to two with 3:09 remaining in the quarter.
With 30 seconds remaining in the quarter, Paska grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to tie the game at 40. The Huskies though, were determined to head into the second half with the lead, and ran the length of the floor. Their drive ended with a basket inside inside just before the buzzer. Ryerson headed in to the half of the championship game down 42-40.
Saskatchewan’s Dalyce Emmerson tormented the Rams under the basket. The 6’3 forward had 10 points (5-8) and added six rebounds.
Ryerson shot 43.2 per cent (16-37) from the field in the half, while Saskatchewan’s late push improved their shooting to a slightly higher 44.4 per cent (16-36).
In the third quarter the Huskies put together an early run. After Desarae Hogberg channeled Stephen Curry – draining a three and walking away before it went in – Saskatchewan went on a 12-6 run and gained a 54-46 lead.
Saskatchewan lit the 3-point arc on fire toward the end of the half, shooting an absurd 63.3 per cent (7-11). But CIS Player of the Year, Keneca Pingue-Giles, was determined to keep the game in check. She caught the ball with 2.4 seconds left in the quarter and drained a buzzer beating three-pointer to cut the Huskies lead to eight heading into the final quarter.
Despite the Rams relentless effort in the fourth quarter to draw closer, they were unable to catch the Huskies. As the final buzzer sounded and the team stood in a row, the Ryerson fans that travelled across the country to see their team play, chanted.
“Overall, I’m happy with the result and I’m really proud of our team because put in a long time to get to this point,” said Pingue-Giles.
In her final game as a Ram she finished with 26 points (11-28), six rebounds and four assists.
Despite the championship loss, the Rams have still won in a way. This is undeniably the best women’s basketball team in school history, and a major reason for the resurgence in the popularity of athletics at Ryerson.
“This is the best finish in Ryerson history, so at least that’s something we can take away with us and leave a legacy,” said Pingue-Giles.