By Chris Sanders
Ryerson’s men’s basketball team stayed hot Friday night to take down the Nipissing Lakers 75-56 for the Rams’ fourth-straight win.
Heading into the game, Nipissing had already been mathematically eliminated from U Sports playoff contention, but to the Rams, this was no frivolous game.
A win against the Lakers meant the Rams would have the opportunity to rank second in the OUA East with a 16-6 record, relying on multiple outcomes around the league. A second place finish would lead to a more favourable playoff matchup.
The Rams have been one of the hottest teams in the OUA of late, winning eight of their last 10 games. During that 10-game stretch, the Rams have been the third-best team in the OUA. So, a seemingly meaningless game for an eliminated Lakers team suddenly had meaning; a chance for the Nipissing to hurt the Rams’ playoff seeding.
The game started out disastrous for both sides; balls were overthrown left and right, suicide passes were being tossed around like grenades, and no one seemed to have their offensive rhythm.
Despite the Rams’ 42.3 per cent field goal shooting and a dismal 25.8 three-point clip, head coach Roy Rana was able to keep his team rolling. Their ill-advised shots were redeemed from a hard-nosed, ceaseless defence that limited Nipissing below 20 points in each quarter, while holding the Lakers to shoot just over 34 per cent in 40 minutes of game time.
“Defensively we were pretty good for four quarters. It wasn’t the prettiest game offensively – credit to them [Nipissing] for taking us out of our rhythm a little bit – we just stayed consistent on the defensive end of the floor,” said Rana.
“Our mindset is to always hold teams under 20 points [each quarter],” said Rams point guard Myles Charvis. “And if we do that, it’s gonna be really hard for teams to beat us, even if our shots aren’t falling like tonight.”
Rams star combo guard Ammanuel Diressa was out of tune, shooting 4-11 to go along with six turnovers. Despite this, Ryerson’s depth provided energy throughout the game with four starters scoring in double-digits.
It’s no secret Ryerson had a sloppy offensive night, but through the contributions of a handful of players coming off the bench, the team was able to outlast the Lakers through hustle.
“Other guys are stepping up and that’s what we need going into the playoffs,” said Diressa.
On a night where baskets were scarce, Myles Charvis led the Rams with a team-high 16 points in 31 minutes of action. And he wasn’t shy of crediting his team with their success.
“We have a lot of guys that can play basketball. We’re a very deep team,” said Charvis. ”Everybody is fighting for minutes, everybody wants to prove they’re good.”
However, the win comes with an asterisk: Laurentian dropped its fourth-straight game while the University of Ottawa edged out Queen’s by three points, leaving a three-way tie for the second seed in the OUA East, all with one game to spare.
And it gets better for Ryerson, as they will tip off against Laurentian at Coca-Cola Court Saturday night to ultimately decide their playoff fate. With Ottawa playing York, who sit in last in the East, the game against Laurentian is a must-win.
Despite the circumstances, the Rams are already adjusting to playoff form. But the winning streak doesn’t seem to matter too much for Rana, who’s more focused on winning each individual battle heading into the playoffs.
“One in a row, two in a row.. four in a row – it doesn’t matter, Just win your game and get ready for the next one,” he said.
UP NEXT: The Rams will take on the Laurentian Voyageurs at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in their regular-season finale on Saturday at 8:00 p.m.