By Will Baldwin
For the second night in a row, Isaiah Traylor and the Lakehead Thunderwolves gave the Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team all it could handle at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in a 79-75 win on Nov. 2.
Although Traylor’s impact wasn’t as pronounced as yesterday on the scoresheet, where he had 29 points 13 rebounds, the veteran guard managed to completely change the momentum of a game for the Thunderwolves in the third quarter.
Traylor would make a three, multiple free throws and a series of game-changing plays in the third to shift the tide and lead the Thunderwolves to a four-point win. He finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
This game was quite different for Ryerson compared to their two-point loss from yesterday. Rams guard Tevaun Kokko came out like a man on a mission scoring 17 in the first quarter.
But two quick fouls early in the second quarter forced Kokko to sit for the remainder of the first half. Even with Kokko on the bench though, the Rams stayed level-headed in the second quarter and went into the locker room with a 49-32 advantage.
Then everything shifted.
When the third quarter began, Traylor and the Thunderwolves were a completely different team and behind a strong away crowd, they rode a furious run in the third quarter and headed into the final frame down just two.
“It’s a 40-minute game, we can’t take breaks,” said Rams head coach Borko Popic, when asked about the third quarter meltdown. “We just have to stay in attack mode and fight for the whole 40 minutes.”
The fourth quarter came down to the wire which is nothing new for the Rams this season—with an eventful contest against Brock last week and Friday’s game versus the Thunderwolves.
Once again in their rematch with Lakehead, the roadside team would come out on top.
The Rams had the ball with 27 seconds to go, however, after a scramble sequence that featured multiple chances at a tie or a Ryerson lead, Lakehead would gain possession.
With just nine seconds to go, the Rams would choose not to foul down two.
And unfortunately for the Rams, an offensive rebound from guard Chume Nwigwe saw him lay in two of his team-high 16 points. It gave the Thunderwolves an insurmountable four-point advantage with just three seconds to play.
The final sequences on both ends were perfect examples of how physical and contentious this game was.
For Jayden Frederick, the physical play was nothing as he continued his strong play for the Rams, dropping 25 points.
“Where I’m from and how I grew up with basketball, that [physicality] pushes me,” said Frederick.
It’s the first time since the 2013-14 season that the Rams have lost back-to-back regular season games at home. According to Frederick, Rams fans shouldn’t be worried.
“All of our games have been pretty close,” said Frederick. “We’re missing key guys.”
The key player most will point to is Tanor Ngom who has yet to make his regular season debut this year.
Popic said post-game that there isn’t any update on the forward’s hand injury. Ngom certainly would’ve helped on the glass as Lakehead dominated with a 24-14 advantage on offensive rebounds.
Despite the early season struggles, Popic sees the positive in tonight’s result.
“Every game is a learning opportunity,” said Popic. “Sometimes lessons are harder to take, like when you lose, but nonetheless, [an] opportunity for us to reflect and get better.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will have a chance to rebound at home against Windsor on Nov. 8 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.