By Libaan Osman
The Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team advanced to the OUA Finals for the fourth straight year, as they escaped with a 99-84 road win over the Laurier Golden Hawks on Feb. 27.
A 24-point lead for the Rams turned into just a two-possession game late as momentum swung the Golden Hawks’ way, giving Ryerson an upset scare.
It was third-year forward Keevon Small who stepped up on the big stage for Ryerson, hitting two consecutive threes to put the Rams up 14 with just under three minutes left in the game.
Off the bench, Small finished with 13 points and three rebounds on 3-5 shooting from long distance in 24 minutes of action.
The win sends Ryerson to the Ontario University Athletics Wilson Cup finals and guarantees them a spot in the Final 8 tournament for the fifth straight year.
Leading the Rams in scoring was third-year guard Jayden Frederick, who finished with 24 points (8-12 FG) and five rebounds, while connecting on six triples on the night.
Not far behind was fifth-year guard Jean-Victor Mukama pouring in 23 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Earlier in the day, Mukama was named as a First-Team OUA All-Star. Rams point guard Myles Charvis also received honours, making it on the second team.
A close battle in the first quarter saw the Rams connect on seven triples in the second frame in what looked like Ryerson was destined to cruise past Laurier similarly to their first matchup earlier in November, where the Rams won by 45.
The Golden Hawks weren’t going down without a fight, dominating the third quarter and outscoring the Rams 35-22. With a massive crowd behind them in their first OUA semi-final home game since 1976, the Golden Hawks gave it all they had and managed to cut their deficit to five with over 5:38 left to play.
But it was Ryerson’s hot shooting from long distance that put an end to this one, with the team hitting a season-high 16 threes in the 15-point win.
Sophomore centre Tanor Ngom also chipped in with 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks while Laurier guard Ali Sow led all scorers with 26 points and five assists.
A fourth straight rematch in the OUA Finals is set to take place between Ryerson and Carleton, who defeated the Brock Badgers on Feb. 27.
In what should be an interesting matchup, the Rams and Ravens (ranked first and third in the country, respectively) split the season series with both teams winning on their opponent’s home court.
In last year’s Wilson Cup contest, the Ravens blew out the Rams 84-58.
UP NEXT: The two teams will go up against each other at the Ravens’ Nest on Mar. 2. Tip-off time is TBA.