By Daniel Rocchi
With February drawing to a close, The Eyeopener examines the performances of the top Ryerson varsity athletes of the month.
Ammanuel Diressa, Men’s Basketball
In his first full year as a Ram, the Ryerson guard wrapped up what was already an impressive regular season with a strong February en route to being named an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) first-team all-star.
In five regular season games through February, Diressa averaged 22 points a game in 32.6 minutes of playing time. That was enough to finish the season averaging 19 points a game, seventh-most in the OUA. In all but one of those five games, Diressa led or tied for the lead in team scoring. He shot 42.6 per cent (32-75), including an impressive 47.1 per cent (16-34) from beyond the arc to finish with the league’s ninth-best three-pointer percentage.
The former player at Tennessee Tech nearly completed a triple-double in Ryerson’s 70-59 win over Queen’s on Feb. 3, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. In the Rams’ final two games of the season—an 82-77 loss to Carleton and a 94-88 overtime win over Ottawa—Diressa was nearly perfect at the free throw line. He shot 88.5 per cent over two games that saw him make 12-of-14 and then 11-of-12, his two highest totals of the season. He finished with the fourth-best free throw percentage in the OUA at 83.1 per cent.
Diressa drove the Rams offence in Ryerson’s first playoff game, an 87-62 win over the Nipissing Lakers. In 28 minutes of play, he shot a team-high 9-for-23 (39 per cent)—including a trio of three-pointers on 14 tries (21.4 per cent)—to lead Ryerson with 22 points as the Rams secured their third straight OUA Final Four berth.
Sofia Paska, Women’s Basketball
Although her team struggled in February, going 2-3 in their last five regular season games before being eliminated in their second playoff game, the third-year forward concluded another dominant season with what was arguably her strongest month of the campaign. She earned her second straight first-team all-star nod in the process.
Paska averaged 22 points a game while playing 32.6 minutes a night, leading her team in scoring in all five regular season games. The former OUA all-rookie team member also posted a career-high 28 points in her team’s 71-61 win over York on Feb. 1. She collected a double-double in Ryerson’s 66-56 loss to Ottawa in the Rams’ last regular season game, posting 18 points and 10 rebounds. Her 18.5 points and 10.4 boards per game were good for third and second in the OUA, respectively, and her 352 total points were the second-most in the league.
Paska made 46.6 per cent of her February field goals (34-73), sinking her lone three-pointer of the month on Feb. 17 against Carleton. She was nearly perfect from the free throw line, making an incredible 29 of 32 shots (90.6 per cent) to finish the regular season with 100 made free throws on 122 tries (82 per cent), the fourth-best rate in the OUA.
Paska’s name was all over the scoresheet in Ryerson’s first-round playoff victory over the York Lions on Feb. 22. She tied for team lead with 17 points, led the Rams with nine rebounds and went a perfect 7-7 from the free throw line. It was the same in the team’s quarter-final game against Windsor, as she led all players with 17 points and added a team-high 10 rebounds, but the double-double and another perfect free throw performance (4-4) weren’t enough. Ryerson lost 68-50, meaning Paska and the Rams will not have the opportunity to defend their Critelli Cup OUA championship title, nor try to improve on last year’s second-place finish at the national tournament.