By Chris Blanchette
The Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team defeated the Lakehead Thunderwolves 93-71 in the OUA quarterfinals on Saturday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
The Rams were outscored 23-19 in the first quarter thanks to a strong performance from Lakehead leading scorer Bacarius Dinkins. He terrorized the paint and scored 10-straight points to end the first.
But because of a strong defensive performance from big man Kadeem Green in the second quarter, Ryerson was able to stop Dinkins from scoring all together.
“We knew he wasn’t going to be able to hit [shots like that] all game. So we stayed solid defensively and came together as a team to get the win,” said Green.
Ryerson head coach Patrick Tatham praised Green’s defensive capabilities after the game, and explained how his presence inside is key if the Rams are to capture an OUA championship.
“He is an elite shot blocker in the CIS and his length and his athleticism is very good around the rim. Without him I don’t know if we really win the games against Carleton or Ottawa,” said Tatham.
Adika Peter-McNeilly had a break out first half scoring 17 of his 19 points in the game on 6-11 shooting. His scoring, along with Green’s strong rim protection, propelled the Rams to a 48-36 lead heading into half.
The first half was indicative of the second. Ryerson was able to convert 17 of Lakehead’s turnovers in the game into 13 points and roll through the second half with few worries. Though the Rams boasts one of the best offenses in the OUA, Peter-McNeilly says it is the Rams defense that makes the team so good.
“Defense, that’s all it is. Sometimes offense wins basketball games but defense wins championships,” said Peter-McNeilly.
Peter-McNeilly finished the game with 19 points (7-17), two rebounds and three assists. Green also had a strong performance tallying 17 points (8-12), seven rebounds and one block.
Next Saturday the Rams will be one step closer to capturing an OUA championship when they host the Windsor Lancers in the first round of the Wilson Cup. Windsor handed Ryerson their first loss of the season back in November, but that was a Rams team that was missing key players.
“The final four is here at home and the opportunity to put up a banner and we have a chance to win an OUA championship for the first time in school history – I think that’s what we’re going for,” said Tatham.
You can catch Ryerson against Windsor next Saturday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre