By Reid Kelly
It was a heavyweight battle between two top-10 ranked teams in the country, as the matchup did not disappoint.
The Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team fell in heartbreaking fashion to the Ottawa Gee-Gees 74-72 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) on Jan. 24.
The game came down to the final seconds. Ryerson scrambled to get the ball to forward Stefanija Mrvaljevic under the net in the dying seconds, before being blocked by six-foot-five Ottawa forward Angela Ribarich. Ryerson’s bench pleaded for a foul call, but no whistle blew.
“We bobbled the ball, but we got it to a great spot,” said Rams head coach Carly Clarke post-game. “We got a pretty good look, maybe some contact there, maybe not. That’s how the game goes. We had a chance to tie it, and we didn’t.”
Rams guard Hayley Robertson led all scorers with 19 points, to go along with four rebounds and four assists. Ryerson guard Marin Scotten turned in a double-double, with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The loss snapped Ryerson’s eight-game win streak, giving them their first regular loss since Nov. 16. They were without forward Jama Bin-Edward and Leyki Sorra. Bin-Edward continues to be sidelined with a knee injury while Sorra recently suffered an ankle injury. There is no timetable for either player’s return.
Ryerson currently sit second in the Ontario University Athletics Central division with a 12-3 record.
They without forward Jama Bin-Edward and Leyki Sorra. Bin-Edward continues to be sidelined with a knee injury while Sorra recently suffered an ankle injury. There is no timetable for either player’s return.
It was a back-and-forth game all night, the Gee-Gees controlled the pace early with Ottawa’s guards pushing the tempo on the Rams. Ryerson held tough, despite shooting 33 per cent from the field in the first.
Ottawa would not let up in the second, as their size in the paint provided problems for the Rams. It allowed the Gees-Gees to go on a 13-3 run, but the Rams would not break.
Rookie guard Taite Cleland took a charge late in the second, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The display of hustle would propel the Rams on a 9-2 run of their own, capped by a buzzer-beating three from Robertson to get the Rams within three at the half.
“I think early on we struggled to plan our pace and get everybody touching the ball,” said Robertson. “We weren’t really moving dynamically, and that’s where our offence shines.”
Both teams hung tough in the second half. Ryerson came out with back-to-back threes from forward Rachel Farwell. Ottawa continued to push with their guards and take advantage of sizing mismatches down low.
Gee-Gees forward Ribarich punished the Rams with five blocks and seven rebounds.
The house was rocking as the teams entered the fourth neck-and-neck. Robertson got the Rams within two with a few key three-pointers in the final minutes.
But it was Ottawa’s Ribarich providing the final nail to the Rams in the dying seconds, with a controversial no-call block on a Stefanija Mrvaljevic’s layup attempt. The Gee-Gees would hold on to win it 74-72.
“That’s two of the top teams in the country coming down to the last possession,” said Clarke. “Are there some things we can get better at? No question. But I’m happy with how we battled, for sure.”
Tonight’s matchup also saw the return of former Rams forward Katherine Follis, who was playing in her first game back at Ryerson after four seasons as a Ram.
After not hitting a single three in her career at Ryerson, Follis converted a wide-open attempt from beyond the arc with two minutes remaining to extend the Gee-Gees lead 68-60. Follis couldn’t help but crack a smile after the shot.
“It’s great to see her,” said Robertson. “She’s done so much for the Rams program, and she’s all of our best friends, so we wish her the best.”
UP NEXT: The Rams are back in action tomorrow night at the MAC, taking on the Carleton Ravens. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.