By Chris Sanders
Hayley Robertson’s late-game heroics led the Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team to a thrilling 72-71 victory over the Alberta Pandas at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Oct. 18.
With 48.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Ryerson clawed back from a five-point deficit to tie the game at 69 as the ball was in Robertson’s hands and she didn’t disappoint.
Robertson shot 2-12 to start the game and missed a critical free throw moments before the final minute of play. That, however, didn’t affect her whatsoever.
Weaving around a screen at the top of the key, Robertson buried a trifecta and what turned out to be the game-winner.
“Hayley’s a gamer,” said Rams head coach Carly Clarke. “She struggled to score early on, took some good shots and they just weren’t falling, but she stayed with it and made a couple big ones down the stretch.”
Robertson finished with 10 points, while Jama Bin-Edward dropped a game-high 22 points, five rebounds and two blocks on 8-12 shooting.
The Rams had four players finish in double-digits scoring with Rachel Farwell and Bronwyn Williams both adding 10 points.
In the 32nd annual Darcel Wright Memorial Classic—a tournament in honour of former Ram Darcel Wright, who played for the program in the early 90’s—Ryerson struggled early, being held to just 43.8 per cent from the field.
Pandas guard Vanessa Wild put up seven points in the opening quarter to guide her team to a 25-18. Wild had a team-high 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists on the afternoon.
“We have to get stops if we want to win. We can’t give up 25 points in a quarter and be successful,” said Clarke. “Once we found our [rhythm] and we got moving a little bit, we got some better looks offensively but we also got some stops on [defence].”
It didn’t take long for the Rams to find their footing in the second quarter though, limiting Alberta to just three points during an eight-minute stretch. Rams guard Leyki Sorra and forward Rachel Farwell drilled back-to-back threes to cap off a 20-5 run before closing the half with a 38-34 lead.
But in the closing minutes of the third quarter, Ryerson had no answer for the Pandas, giving up a 7-0 run that poured into the opening minutes of the fourth.
As it looked like Ryerson was about to pick up their first loss of the preseason as they trailed by seven with just over five minutes to go, Robertson took over.
Scoring eight points in the final stretch, Robertson assisted on a Bin-Edward three to swing the momentum in a packed school day game that saw kids erupt.
“The fans were really bringing out a great atmosphere for us that is awesome to play with; you just feed off their energy,” said Robertson.
With two seconds remaining and an Alberta inbound, Pandas guard Emma Kary had the game-winning shot on her fingertips, but her shot clanked off the rim as Ryerson came away with the one-point win.
Although content with her team’s effort, Clarke mentioned concerns of Ryerson’s inconsistencies on the defensive end of the floor and being “annihilated” on the offensive glass with Alberta grabbing eight of their 19 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter.
The win came without starting guard Marin Scotten, who averaged 10 points last season for the Rams and was out with a sprained ankle.
“To get a win like that without Marin in the lineup, who’s been a really big part for us recently, shows the character and cohesiveness of our team,” said Clarke.
UP NEXT: Ryerson will face off against the UBC Thunderbirds tomorrow in the semifinals of the Darcel Wright Memorial Classic. Tip-off is set for 5:00 p.m.