Rams drop preseason home opener in fierce battle with Guelph

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By Jack MacCool

The Rams men’s basketball team played host to the Guelph Gryphons on Friday, Oct. 22, at the Mattamy Athletic Center (MAC) losing in a 94-91 thriller.    

The Rams got a strong contribution from forward Tom Dumont off the bench. Dumont brought excellent defensive pressure and added a team-high 20 points, including 18 in the second half alone and six straight in the dying minutes of the game.  

“What you saw with [Dumont] is what [Dumont] is going to do for us,” said Rams head coach David DeAveiro. “He’s gotta be the man, he’s gotta step up and lead by example and [he] did that tonight.

The first quarter started with a frenetic pace and neither team was able to establish their offence early. A lot of turnovers and fouls saw the Rams facing a 12 point deficit. However, an increase in defensive intensity brought the Rams to within two at the end of the first.

Rams guard Marcus Upshaw had a strong start to the game, scoring nine points in a very competitive first quarter.  

A pair of big dunks from Kayode Fakomi as well as two strong takes from Jaaden Lewis helped propel the Rams to their first lead of the night early in the second quarter. Despite the emphatic start to the second frame, Guelph also enjoyed their fair share of points at the rim.  

Upshaw continued his hot start adding eight points in the second quarter, including two three-pointers, to bring his total to 17 at the half. Guelph’s Rasheed Weeks led the Gryphons with 14 points of his own. 

The Rams led 48-43 after a hotly contested first half.   

The second half began similarly to the first as both teams played with a very high tempo. But to start the final half, both teams were firing on all cylinders scoring seven points each in just the first minute and a half.

Once the pace of play slowed down, Guelph retook the lead halfway through the third after a pair of big defensive stops bringing the score to 61-56.  

After a few empty possessions, Rams guard Tyler Sagl drilled back to back three-pointers to cut the lead to one. With 58 seconds left in the third quarter, Dumont slashed to the rim, converting a tough and one over top of an outstretched Gryphon to retake the lead 72-67.

The end of the third saw a string of defensive stops shift the momentum back in Ryerson’s favour heading into the final quarter.

The final quarter began with both teams trading points for the first two minutes as they amped up the on-ball pressure. The Gryphons came out in the final frame attacking the offensive backboard. 

They also converted multiple second chance points early, expanding the lead to eight points halfway through the quarter.  

DeAveiro saw Guelph’s success on the glass as the biggest teaching point of the night.

“Everyday we need to learn how to compete a little bit more so that teams don’t come in here and out rebound us like the way that they’re doing right now,” said DeAveiro. 

The Rams hit a dry spell during the midway point of the fourth quarter, but cut the lead to two points with two minutes to play.  

A pair of clutch free throws from Rams guard Eli Farrakhan tied the game at 91 with 30 seconds remaining. However, a late foul plus the and one free throw gave Guelph a one point lead with 15 seconds to play.

The Rams had a chance to tie the game but an illegal screen call sealed the deal for the Gryphons.

The Rams fall to 1-3 in exhibition play after Friday night’s loss, but the future is bright with a fresh and young roster.

UP NEXT: The Rams host the George Brown Huskies on Saturday, Oct. 23 at the MAC. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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