By Will Baldwin
The rivalry between the Carleton Ravens and the Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team continued at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) on Jan. 25 with a hard-fought 88-82 victory for the Ravens.
What would a game between these squads be without a flair of dramatics at the end?
With just 39 seconds to go, Ravens star guard Yasiin Joseph connected on his ninth three-pointer of the night, giving him 34 points and also the dagger that put a stop to the Rams fourth quarter comeback bid.
The reason for the Rams fourth quarter deficit—which grew to as large as 14-points—was a patented dominant third quarter from the No. 1 ranked team in the country.
Ryerson knew the inevitable Carleton run was on its way, but unfortunately for Rams head coach Borko Popic and his team, they couldn’t stop it.
“They stayed aggressive and it impacted us,” said Popic. “We were kind of on the defence. [We] allowed them to attack us, had some turnovers and they were able to get out in transition.”
Despite the loss, Rams forward Tanor Ngom continued his great play of late. Ngom dropped 23 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and a couple of highlight-reel dunks that left the crowd in awe.
Other than the third quarter—where the Ravens had a 15-5 start—the game was tight and extremely physical.
For Rams star guard Tevaun Kokko, the physicality brought out a type of basketball he thoroughly enjoys.
“It’s more fun when it gets like that,” said Kokko. “If they’re letting them play physical then they let us play physical, it makes it a lot more competitive. It was a fun environment to play in.”
Kokko who came into the game ranked second in scoring across the Ontario University Athletics, poured in a team-high 29 points, six assists and two steals in the loss.
Another player who thrived in the physical environment was Joseph, who not only poured in a game-high 34 points but truly excelled in the first half as the Ravens main offensive catalyst with 22 points.
Joseph shot 9-14 from beyond the arc on the night, putting on a show while giving Popic and the Rams defence fits.
“He’s a high-level player, one of the best in the country,” said Popic. “We fell asleep, he got daylight and made us pay.”
Speaking of making the Rams pay, turnovers were everything in this game as the home team coughed it up 17 times, leading to 21 Raven points.
Before tonight’s loss, Ryerson was riding a six-game win streak, with notable wins over nationally-ranked teams in McMaster, Western and Ottawa.
Although the Rams suffered their first loss since Nov. 27, the mood around the team is one of positivity as the team has clearly found their rhythm in the second half of the season.
For Rams guard Jayden Frederick, who had 12 points after being stuck in foul trouble for most of the game, it was inevitable for this team to find its stride.
“This is a new team, most guys hadn’t played together,” said Frederick. “We knew what we could do at the start of the year, the talent we had, it was just playing together more often.”
If the Rams proved anything this weekend after a big win over No. 5 ranked Ottawa and then this close result with Carleton, the run they have been on since late November hasn’t been a fluke.
“We’re not scared of nobody, they should be scared of us,” said Frederick. “I think this weekend just showed what we can do.”
UP NEXT: The Rams will host the McMaster Marauders Jan. 29 at the MAC. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.