By Donald Higney and Libaan Osman
The Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team will begin their playoff journey at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) this Saturday in their bid for nationals and an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship.
Ryerson is entering the playoffs—after winning five straight games—the third seed, with an 18-4 record and will face the Queen’s Gaels in the quarter-finals.
The Rams are boasting one of the best offences across the country—they’re ranked top five in the OUA in every offensive statistical category.
From scoring to rebounding to playmaking, Ryerson has done it all this season. Led by Hayley Robertson and Marin Scotten, the team’s main offensive strength continues to be their three-point shooting.
“We can crash the boards on offence, we can post up, and we can pull up,” said Robertson. “We have a variety of ways [of scoring] and [Carly Clarke] is a great coach so she’ll be able to find ways if the shots aren’t dropping.”
Ryerson ranks first in percentage and second in threes made. Rams starters Rachel Farwell and Scotten sit atop the OUA in percentage, with both players making a combined 5.1 threes a game.
In late January, Farwell stepped into the starting lineup after the season-ending injury of Jama Bin-Edward. The third-year forward was ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury back on Jan. 15 in a road game against Waterloo.
Bin-Edward was having a breakout season, averaging 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on 50.8 per cent shooting from the field.
“She was playing so well. To have a season-ending injury is hard for any player, especially for her calibre, it’s hard to see her go down,” said Rams head coach Carly Clarke.
Yet, Farwell has fit in seamlessly playing a larger role, shooting extremely efficiently from the field, at 48.4 per cent which ranks fourth overall.
In nine out of the Rams’ final 10 games, Farwell has scored double-digits while also tying a program record for points in a game.
“She’s been waiting for her moment,” said Clarke. “Last year, she didn’t get a lot of minutes because there were veterans ahead of her. We knew she had it in her, that was never a question, it was just waiting for her chance.”
Scotten has also upped her game, averaging 19.5 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting a red-hot 53.7 per cent from beyond the arc since Jan. 15.
Ryerson’s defence continues to be elite, as they closed the season holding opponents to 57.6 points and the second-worst field goal percentage in the OUA.
The team also ranks second in blocks, as fourth-year forward Bronwyn Williams sits fourth in the OUA.
Heading into their quarter-finals match, Ryerson looks to polish up defensively and become more disciplined when facing Queen’s this Saturday.
In their last meeting against the Gaels on Nov. 23, Ryerson came out victorious in Kingston 73-66.
“In my eight years here, I think I’ve played them in the playoffs twice,” said Clarke. “They’re a great program, they’re really well-coached, they work really hard. We’ve both been [a] top-10 team the last five or six years. Certainly, whenever we face off it’s competitive.”
Queen’s main strength is their balanced scoring attack. They lead the OUA in scoring with 79 points per game. They also have seven players averaging more than seven points per game and also lead in steals with 12 per game.
If Ryerson makes it to the next round, they could possibly match up against the No. 4 ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees or the Carleton Ravens.
Historically, Ryerson hasn’t played well against Ottawa, but in their most recent game, it went down to the wire in a two-point loss on Jan. 24.
But with the quarter-finals just around the corner, coach Clarke and the Rams aren’t thinking about the potential upcoming competition.
“You can’t look ahead. We’re going to get a tough opponent every single game, every quarter-final,” said Clarke on the keys of making a long playoff run.
“Just focusing on the game in front of us and nothing else and trusting what we’ve built all season.”
UP NEXT: Ryerson will welcome Queen’s this Saturday at home to begin their quest for the Critelli Cup. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
With files from William Prowse