By Donald Higney
After a second half surge from the Queen’s Gaels, the Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team weathered the storm and came out with the 74-59 win at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) on Feb. 22.
Queen’s more than doubled their first half scoring total in the second with 41, compared to Ryerson’s 33.
“We knew they would go on a run, they’re a great team and they shot poorly in the first which is uncharacteristic,” said Rams head coach Carly Clarke. “We kept our composure and just stayed with our plan, kept the ball moving and made some shots late.”
After being up by 15 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Gaels were fouled and hit both free throws, then stole the ensuing inbound pass and immediately scored, cutting their deficit to 11 in just 15 seconds.
The Rams managed to stand pat defensively late, as forward Bronwyn Williams had two back-to-back blocks followed by a steal from guard Hayley Robertson.
Speaking of Robertson, she broke Ryerson’s scoring drought in the fourth, nailing a three with 7:39 left in the fourth. She finished with 23 points, nine assists, five rebounds and five steals.
“Hayley is our engine. She runs the show, she’s our leader, she’s our energy. People follow her,” said Clarke. “Everyone has a tremendous amount of trust in her and she keeps us moving forward.”
Both teams traded empty possessions late in the fourth until Rams guard Marin Scotten made a layup with 2:50 left, pushing the lead to 13.
Ryerson was able to hold Queen’s below their scoring average of 79 points in the 15-point win.
The two teams played earlier this season, where the Rams pulled out a 73-66 victory in Kingston. Queen’s second-leading scorer Sophie de Goede missed that game but played tonight, finishing with 12 points.
“Our defence won us the game. We found ways to score but we’ve been emphasizing defence, particularly this week,” said Clarke. “[Queen’s is] third in the nation in scoring and we held them to under 60 which is a really great job.”
It took the Gaels almost four minutes to get on the scoreboard with the Rams playing such stingy defence.
Led by Robertson and Scotten, the Rams went on 12-0 run in the second quarter, allowing just four points from the Gaels as they led by 23 points at halftime.
“I thought we were really focused defensively, we had a good idea of what we wanted to do and we executed our game plan. We forced them into the shots we wanted them to take, they were late shot clock and they struggled to score,” said Clarke.
Ryerson also surpassed a program record for blocks in a game with 13 on the night as Emma Fraser came off the bench and notched four blocks in 18 minutes.
With the win, Ryerson will move on to the next round in their quest for the Critelli Cup. The Ottawa Gee-Gees await in the semi-finals, who came to Toronto at the end of January and beat Ryerson by one basket.
“We’re super excited. We’ve been wanting a rematch with Ottawa. It’s obviously going to be a tough game especially playing there but we’re excited” said Scotten.
UP NEXT: Ryerson will travel to Ottawa to play the Gee-Gees in the semi-finals on Feb. 26. Tip-off is set for 6 P.M.