Photo: Brent Smyth

Rams crush Nipissing, clinch home playoff game

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By Luke Bellus

The Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team was back at home Friday night, beating the Nipissing Lakers in a commanding 102-32 win.

Ryerson not only set a season-high in points, but also set an all-time record for margin of victory with the 70-point win. The 102 points were one point shy of tying the all-time record for points scored in a game by Ryerson’s women’s basketball team.

With the win, paired with a York Lions loss, the Rams clinched home court in the playoffs against those same York Lions on Feb. 21.

In the first quarter, it appeared that the Rams would get a battle from the Lakers. Ryerson held a 30-21 lead headed into the second, and Nipissing managed to keep the score close thanks to 5-10 shooting from three-point territory.

When these teams met on Coca-Cola court in the 2016-2017 season, the Rams shut out Nipissing in the first half of the game. Although there was no scoreless half this time around, the Rams did their best job to follow up that defensive performance with another shutdown of the Laker offence.

The Rams outscored Nipissing 23-0 in the second quarter and took a 53-21 lead into recess. The Rams defence forced nine turnovers in the first half, turning those into 17 points on the offensive end.

Ryerson the Lakers pointless for 13-and-a-half minutes. That stretch saw Nipissing go 0/11 from three-point land. From then on, the Rams never looked back.

“I think in the second quarter we picked up our intensity defensively,” Ryerson head coach Carly Clarke said after the game. “We weren’t thrilled with how we defended them in the first quarter. We weren’t mistake-free but we definitely played with enough intensity that we sped them up and forced them into some tougher decisions.”

The Lakers were able to score in the third quarter, however they were no match for the Rams and the score was 79-30 at the end of three.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Rams scored their 84th point of the night, passing their previous season-high of 83, a total reached on Nov. 10 against McMaster.

When the game was all said and done, Ryerson rookies combined for 43 of the 102-points.“[The freshman] have been a big part of our team all season. It’s fun to see them more comfortable,” Clarke said.

Clarke was also pleased with the rest of the team’s performance.

“It’s nice to see our team collectively, play as connected as we did tonight. Our assist total tonight (25) shows our willingness to share the ball and celebrate each other success,” she said.

One thing that won’t come up in the box score took place with 3:51 left in the fourth quarter. With the Rams up 59 points, a loose ball was rolling on the floor, and first-year guard Stefanija Mrvaljevic dove to the floor to regain possession for the Rams.

“I think it shows that we’re ready to go in playoffs,” Clarke said. “And we’ve been talking all month about those effort plays, those gritty plays, and making sure we don’t get outworked on any play. It doesn’t matter what the score, or what’s happening, we have to give all we have to play every position as hard as we can.”

UP NEXT: The Rams will wrap up their season Saturday night at 6 p.m. against the Laurentian Voyageurs.

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