By Libaan Osman
Led by Manny Diressa’s 27 points, the Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team survived a late surge to secure a 94-81 win against the Queen’s Gaels at the Coca-Cola Court on Friday night.
Ryerson came out clicking on all cylinders, with their ferocious defence registering four blocks and forcing seven turnovers in the first quarter alone.
The Gaels, on the other hand, committed eight fouls in the first six-and-a-half minutes of play, which prompted Ryerson to be the aggressors, going on a 17-3 run to end the quarter up 30-14.
Diressa, who had a career-high 50 points against the York Lions on Wednesday, poured in 27 points, eight rebounds and three assists on 9-14 shooting from the field in this contest. He now ranks second in the OUA scoring at 23.7 points per game.
In the second, it appeared as if Ryerson had this game all locked up, until the Gaels went on a stunning 19-0 run to start the frame. Queen’s was led by guard Jaz Bains, who connected on four of his five threes in the second quarter, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the quarter.
“They were able to break us down off the dribble, get into the paint and find their shooters,” said Rams assistant coach Borko Popic. “We were a little bit lethargic to start that quarter and very quickly they flipped a 16-point lead into a two point lead into halftime.”
The Gaels managed to shoot 6-12 from beyond the arc, giving them a slight 42-40 advantage at halftime.
The early part of the second half seemed as if Queen’s was bound to run away with this one, up 58-50 with just under five minutes to play; but the Rams brought back their energetic defence to give them a 65-63 edge into the fourth.
“It was just concentration and communication,” said Diressa. “We had to focus on it and we adjusted to it in the second half.”
As this entire game was dictated by runs, it was only right it ended with one. The Rams, who trailed 70-67 with 7:33 left to play, went on a 16-2 run in a four-minute span to firmly take control of this game.
Ryerson shot 55.6 per cent from the field in the final quarter, catapulting them to their third-straight win.
Ryerson’s bench also stepped up big time, outscoring the Gaels 24-8 in the game. Forward Jean-Victor Mukama led the way for the Rams off the bench with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks while Nathan Culbreath added 8 points and two rebounds on 3-4 shooting.
“It was good to see them have a good game after struggling a couple games in a row,” said Diressa. “We need them down the stretch against good teams. They have the potential and they just need to break that rust off and get their confidence back.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will welcome the Ottawa Gee-Gees On Jan. 20 at the Coca-Cola Court next week. Tip-off is scheduled at 8:00 p.m.