By Gavin Axelrod
The Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team tipped-off the new season with an 80-67 victory over the York Lions at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) on Oct. 24.
Rams guard Jayden Frederick had the home crowd roaring early, scoring 13 of his career-high 32 points in the games opening frame.
“Anybody was gonna get it,” said Frederick. “It was the first game of the season, I’ve been waiting for this.”
After an electric first 10 minutes of play, the Rams stalled.
Ryerson scored a mere five points in the opening four minutes of the second quarter and York took advantage of their stagnant offence.
The Lions forced the Rams into a handful of turnovers and even drew a pair of offensive fouls. Lions guard Tyler Pryce led them with eight first half points to give York a 32-31 advantage into the break.
Ryerson’s streak of 18 consecutive victories over York dating back to 2010, hung in the balance with 20 minutes of basketball left to play.
“We told them to keep shooting the ball,” said Rams head coach Borko Popic. “Our defence picked up in the second half and that helped as well but our guys are shot makers and sometimes it takes time and we [stuck] with it.”
The Rams turned up the intensity midway through the third quarter with a trio of steals leading to a pair of electrifying dunks that got the MAC rocking.
If high flying dunks weren’t enough, Rams guard Jaren Jones had an emphatic rejection with 3:37 minutes remaining in the third and quickly followed that up by scoring off a pretty feed from guard Tevaun Kokko on the next possession.
Kokko made quite the impression in his first regular season game for Ryerson. The former two-time OUA All-Star finished with 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and six steals.
“He always brings a crazy amount of energy, that’s just him, that’s his personality,” said Frederick when asked about Kokko’s impact on the game. “Having him on the team gets everyone amped up. Defensively, offensively, he just has that confidence about him.”
With the crowd behind them, the Rams were in firm control of the game. A buzzer-beating three-pointer from first-year forward Tom Dumont put the Rams up 55-49 heading into the final quarter.
“It’s actually my first game in Canada and it was a good feeling,” said Dumont when asked about the crowd’s response to his highlight-worthy plays.
Dumont finished the game with 10 points as his performance was a bright spot for Ryerson.
Despite not playing during the preseason, Dumont’s length helped a Rams team that was without forward Tanor Ngom for the second straight game after suffering a hand injury in their preseason game against the Mercyhurst Lakers.
“[Dumont] earned it,” said Popic. “He’s been with us for almost two months now and he’s a player that has come in ready to go and he’s earned everything he’s getting and you can see the impact on both ends of the floor.”
Ryerson remained in firm control as the game reached its climax. Fueled by their electric third quarter, the Rams came out with a 13-point win in front of a large home crowd.
UP NEXT: The Rams will travel to Bob Davis Gymnasium for their first road game in a matchup with the Brock Badgers on Oct. 26.