By Gavin Axelrod
The 2019-20 season came to a crashing end for the Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team, falling 75-54 to the Ottawa Gee-Gees Feb. 22 at Montpetit Hall.
This is the first time since the 2014-15 season that Ryerson has lost to Ottawa in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs and marks the end of the team’s five consecutive U Sports Final 8 tournament appearances.
It was a disastrous start for the Rams, who found themselves down 23-8 and in a 21-point hole. In addition to this, they shot just 26.7 per cent from the field in the opening quarter.
Ryerson looked to have found their footing in the second quarter, mounting a 10-5 run bringing the score to 21-36 with 2:47 remaining, however, the run ended almost as quickly as it began.
Ottawa’s Guillaume Pepin was a thorn in Ryerson’s side, scoring 14 of his 18 points on the night in the first half. Gee-Gees point guard Calvin Epistola also poured in 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and a game-high five steals.
Turnovers have haunted Ryerson all season, and tonight, it was the nail in their coffin. The Rams allowed 12 points off 14 turnovers in the first half and finished the game allowing 27 points off their 25 turnovers.
At halftime, Ottawa held a commanding 42-27 lead.
But, Rams guard Jayden Frederick wouldn’t let his team go down without a fight. The fourth-year scored nine points in the third quarter.
Frederick was one of four players to score 18 points in the game. Rams forward Tanor Ngom also added 18 points and drew two offensive fouls.
Ngom led all players with a game-high 11 rebounds, recording his 10th double-double of the year.
Ryerson stared down a 21-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter. Ten minutes separated the Rams from a date with the Carleton Ravens and an end to their season.
Despite the effort, a comeback was not meant to be. Turnovers and poor shooting were ultimately Ryerson’s undoing.
Rams point guard Tevaun Kokko just couldn’t spark his high-octane offence. The third-year guard scored a mere nine points on 4-12 shooting from the field.
Saturday’s loss marked the first time Kokko failed to score in double-figures this season.
For a team that averaged 15.7 assists per game in the regular season, they recorded just five in Saturday’s contest.
The Rams also struggled from three-point-range shooting 17.6 per cent on 17 attempts. No Ryerson player made more than one three-pointer in the game.
After defeating Guelph with ease three days ago, the Rams looked like a completely different team Saturday night.
It’s undoubtedly a disappointing end to the season for a team that scratched and clawed their way from the bottom of the OUA Central division to the No. 6 ranked team in the country.