By Chris Sanders
The Ryerson Rams completed their season sweep against the Queen’s Gaels on Wednesday night, annihilating the team by a score of 103-79 to advance to the second round of the Wilson Cup Playoffs.
In the first quarter, both teams came out firing, showing that there’s certainly no shortage of post-season intensity between the two.
Lock-down defence prevented the Gaels from making an offensive run, while the Rams struggled to sink their shots early. But Ryerson’s offensive woes soon became irrelevant, as the team started to catch fire from three-point territory—knocking down four of their eight threes to set the tone for the game.
In the second, it seemed like the Rams were going to run away with an easy victory after going on an 11-3 run to give themselves a 41-25 lead with 4:54 to go in the first half.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be that easy.
Queen’s forwards Matt Elcock and Tanner Graham went on a 10-0 run to cut Ryerson’s lead to five. The half ended with the Rams up 49-48, but the momentum swayed toward the Gaels after they battled back from a 16-point deficit.
“Play possession by possession,” said Rams head coach Roy Rana during his halftime speech. “Communicate better on the defensive end of the floor. They made a lot of shots in the second quarter. Just go out and contest harder.”
After a back-and-forth third quarter, the Rams headed into the fourth with a two-point lead. The situation was tense, but Ryerson wasn’t even startled, said Rams rookie center Tanor Ngom, who put it best.
“We have Manny,” he said. “We don’t get nervous.”
Ammanuel Diressa scored just five points the first half, but he quickly got past his offensive struggles in the second, scoring 25 of Ryerson’s 54 second half points.
The collective 71-point contribution from the three-headed monster of Diressa, Myles Charvis and JV Mukama truly opened up the game for the Rams. The trio was eight points away from outscoring the entire Gaels roster.
“They found each other, they made the right plays,” said Rana. “(And) when they were open they took good shots.”
The Rams also locked in defensively, allowing a total of 31 points in the second half.
Alongside their defensive efforts, Ryerson’s offensive splurge in the fourth quarter opened up the floodgates with the team scoring 35 points—the game-high for points in a quarter—to propel themselves to a victory.
As a unit, the Rams shot 50 per cent from the field while sinking 19 of their 38 attempts from beyond the arc. Their offensive groove translated into clean basketball, turning over the ball a mere nine times throughout the contest.
It was a convincing win to say the least, but the chase for their third OUA Wilson Cup in as many years is far from over, as they face the Ottawa Gee-Gees in Ottawa on Saturday night. The winner of that game will move on to the final four.
“They’ve been one of the best [basketball] programs in the country for the last decade,” said Rana. “To go there and beat them is always tough. I expect to (see) another great game.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will go on the road and take on the Ottawa Gee-Gees at Montpetit Hall on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.