By Jack MacCool
A pair of late-game three pointers from guard Mikaela Dodig propelled the Rams women’s basketball team to a thrilling 68-65 victory over the Queen’s Gaels on Nov. 5 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
The contest was an instant classic with both teams trading the lead all the way to the final buzzer. The Rams got a huge contribution from Dodig, who finished with a game-high 25 points and played all 40 minutes of action in the win
Friday’s contest came 629 days removed from the Rams last regular season game played in the MAC, an 80-50 victory over Laurentian University. Rams head coach Carly Clarke didn’t take being back in the MAC for granted.
“It has been a long time, but in some ways it feels like we never left,” said Clarke. “When you’re playing the game it feels the same and obviously that’s a great feeling.”
Both teams found success in their offence early in the game. The Rams shot the ball very well from three-point range, burying a trio of shots from long range before the midway point of the opening quarter.
After multiple lead changes, Dodig swooped to the rim, splitting two Gaels defenders for the layup and earned two of her six first quarter points. After a high intensity first quarter the Rams led by two, 24-22.
In the second quarter it was clear that neither team would give the other anything easy, as they combined for just six points through four minutes. The increase in defence would last the entirety of the quarter as neither team was able to extend the lead past two points.
The story of the first half was points in the paint, with the Gaels racking up 26 to Ryerson’s 18. But after two close quarters, the Rams led Queen’s 31-30. Fourth-year guard Marin Scotten led the Rams with eight points in the half, while forward Julia Chadwick led all scorers with ten for Queen’s.
The Rams knew something had to change in the second half if they were to be successful.
“We [needed] to sharpen up defensively, both in defensive transition and being on the boards,” said Dodig.
The Rams struggled early in the second half with Queen’s jumping to a 7-0 run just a minute and a half in. Despite this, two timely three-pointers by Dodig and forward Rachel Farwell allowed the Rams to battle back to take a six point lead.
The Rams strung together stops and scores late in the third quarter, extending the lead back to six points, which forced Queen’s into a timeout. Despite multiple runs by both teams, the game continued to be close with the score tied at 49 entering the final stanza.
Queen’s upped their defence to start the fourth quarter, scoring four quick points on the fastbreak before Farwell opened the scoring for the Rams with a beautiful post isolation bucket.
Halfway through the final quarter the Rams were faced with a seven point deficit after some strong play from the opposition. But the Rams responded, cutting the lead to three.
With under two minutes to play, it was the “Mikaela Dodig Show,” as she nailed two massive three-pointers to reclaim the lead with just 30 seconds remaining. Queen’s had a chance to win, but the final possession saw Dodig smother the Queen’s guard to seal the game.
The win helped the Rams start their season 1-0, but it didn’t come without adversity. They’ll look to use the experience from Friday’s game in the future as they aim to cement themselves as one of the best teams in the nation.
“It’s exciting that our team is composed and resilient through those moments, we have trust in what we are doing.” said Clarke.
UP NEXT: The Rams will look to stay undefeated when they head to North Bay, Ont., to take on the Nipissing Lakers on Nov. 12. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.