By Jack MacCool
The Rams women’s basketball team made history Sunday, finishing the regular season undefeated for the first time.
Their 90-49 win also marked the Rams fourteenth consecutive victory, heading into the postseason on a high.
“This team is so focused, bought in, selfless, and together,” said Rams head coach Carly Clarke. “They’re just connected and committed to the goal which is getting better everyday.”
The Rams didn’t take the prospect of finishing undefeated for granted, coming out ready and locked-in. After matching up with Laurentian the previous day, the Rams made adjustments in order to neutralize the early threat the Voyageurs sent the day before.
The opening minute saw the Rams get multiple stops on the defensive end, before capitalizing on offence with a three pointer off the feed from Stefanija Mrvaljevic.
After stopping the primary attack on multiple occasions, the Rams couldn’t secure the defensive rebounds allowing Laurentian to score four quick second chance points. Halfway through the quarter, the Rams led 7-5.
A timely mid range jump shot followed by two free throws by Rams centre Eleanor Jones gave them some separation, extending the lead to eight with one minute remaining in the first.
After their fourteenth straight first quarter win, the Rams led the Voyageurs 17-6.
The Rams opened the second frame with beautiful ball movement ending in a Haley Fedick three-pointer off the assist from Kyia Giles. However, the Voyageurs came with the same disruptive energy they had the day before, cutting the lead to just three after some good offensive execution.
The answer to Laurentian’s run came in the form of a Kaillie Hall corner three, as both teams went back and forth exchanging scores. With a little over three minutes remaining in the half, the Rams lead was just three.
After briefly struggling with the Voyageurs intensity on defence, the Rams were able to string together an impressive run, scoring on seven straight possessions, including four threes to extend the lead to 19 at the half. It was another balanced attack for the Rams, as nine players got on the scoresheet with five players scoring at least five points in the half.
The Rams were just one half away from the first undefeated season in program history and wouldn’t let anything get in the way of that milestone.
The Rams opened scoring in the second half with a gorgeous inside-out passing play that saw Giles hit one of her four three pointers of the afternoon. They followed that up with excellent defence, forcing the Voyageurs into turnovers with their pressure. After six minutes of play in the third quarter, the Rams had a 53-29 lead.
With just over three minutes to play in the frame, Rams senior Mikaela Dodig used a screen from Fedick to drive into the lane, stopping on a dime and nailing the floater to score two of her 12 points total game points. The lead sat at 34 entering the final quarter, 66-32.
The fourth saw the Rams continue to extend the lead with their excellent ball movement and defensive skill.
Sunday’s contest not only marked the first undefeated season in history, but also the final regular season game in the careers of seven graduating athletes as they were celebrated in Ryerson’s annual senior night.
The Rams honoured seven players for their impact on the program and their successes on and off the floor.
As the final minutes of the game ticked away, the Rams’ seniors checked out of a regular season game for the final time, to a deserved ovation.
“I don’t think there’s a group more undeserving of having to go through the disruption of the pandemic,” said Clarke. “They’re just so committed to each other and basketball and the team. I don’t think there is a better group of people and leaders to lead our team and get us to this point.”
As they finish with their best regular season record in program history, the No. 3 nationally ranked Rams look forward to the playoffs where they hope to make a deep run at the Ontario University Athletics title and beyond.
UP NEXT: The Rams await their playoff opponent on their quest to become number one in the country.