By Kintaro Skinner
After a 23-point loss to the Carleton Ravens last Saturday, the Rams decided to make a statement Friday night, defeating the Varsity Blues 96-76, behind Roshane Roberts’ career-high 25 points.
The win improves the Rams’ record to 13-6, placing them in a tie with the Ottawa Gee-Gees for third in the OUA East.
Before the offensive barrage that led to the 20-point win, Ryerson came out sluggish in the first half. They were late on their defensive rotations and it was clear that Toronto had the hot hand early. The Varsity Blues shot 47 per cent from the field and were fuelled by eight three-pointers in the first half, including five combined by Toronto guards Evan Shadkami and Sage Usher.
From the jump, it was clear Toronto’s game plan was to double team Ryerson’s Ammanuel Diressa. Early on, Diressa was stymied by Toronto’s swarming defence, as he was forced into tough passes and committed two turnovers in the first two quarters. He finished the first half with only 3 points on 1-4 shooting from the field.
Despite Diressa’s struggles, the four other starters were able to step up, combining for 34 of the Rams’ 39 first half points.
In the second half, the Rams seemed to put their lackadaisical defensive play behind them, taking over the game with their defense as they had a number of steals and fastbreaks leading to easy dunks and layups.
“We just needed to be better defensively, we needed to get out to shooters quicker, contest, and chase them off the [three-point] line,” said assistant coach Borko Popic on his team’s second half adjustments.
Jean-Victor Mukama and Diressa were able to find their way offensively themselves as some fast-paced play caught the Blues off-guard which led to dribble drives and passes to open shooters like Roberts, who made seven three-pointers on the game, and five in the second half alone.
“Coming into the game I was confident, and it’s just basketball at the end of the day, I just gotta let it fly.” said Roberts on his career night. Roberts finished the contest with 25 points on 9-11 shooting from the field.
The Rams scored 35 points in the third quarter and didn’t look back as they finished the game shooting 51 per cent as a team. Mukama scored 19 points on 7-13 shooting and Diressa finished with 20 points, converting on all eight of his free-throw attempts.
“We can all score the ball but moving forward,” Roberts said. “We’ve just got to keep moving the ball in transition and keep it going.” .
UP NEXT: Ryerson will face off against the York Lions in their next matchup on the road. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. at Tait Mckenzie Centre.