Dan Bannister (Queen’s): 13 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists and 1 steal
Jahmal Jones (Ryerson): 25 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 6 steals
TORONTO – The Ryerson Rams won their third game in a row in convincing fashion, on Friday night, beating the visiting Queen’s Gaels 89-50.
The Rams had played four away games (going 2-2) to open 2011 and were finally back home. Early on, this didn’t seem to matter as the Gaels jumped to a 10-2 lead but as the rest of the night would prove, this was more a product of the Rams’ play than that of Queen’s.
Ryerson fought back, tied the game at 10 and soon took a lead it would not surrender for the rest of the game.
“I wasn’t very pleased with our first half, I don’t think we played very well,” said Rams Head Coach Roy Rana.
Case in point, the Rams enjoyed only a 5-point lead at the half, 41-36. For the fan, this might have been puzzling, as Ryerson seemed to impose its will at both ends of the court. The Gaels, led by fourth-year guard Dan Bannister with 13 points, always seemed to find a way to battle back, even when the Rams jumped ahead by 11 early in the second quarter.
“They were just outworking us,” said Ryerson rookie Jelane Pryce, who chipped in with 9 points and 5 rebounds.
This recent surge has the Rams (5-8) in position to advance to the postseason as they are now tied for fifth with the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the OUA East division. This weekend (i.e. home against two struggling opponents in Queen’s and the Royal Military College Paladins) is the type that Ryerson fans, coaches and players want to see the team win in convincing fashion.
Pryce explained that the Queen’s game was “the most important” and praised his opponents in saying that, “They’re a tough team and even though their record is poor, came close to (beating) some really good teams.”
Indeed the Gaels, who declined interview requests from NPH after the game, have a few close defeats on their schedule, most notably against York (81-78) and powerhouse Carleton (86-73).
Pryce said the Rams knew they “had to play hard” to win the game and though the Gaels were “working harder than us” in the first half, he was happy with the way the team responded in the second half.
In the second half, the Rams imposed their will and the Gaels could not keep up as they managed only 14 points in the last two quarters combined.
“We started contesting shots,” explained Pryce in simple fashion.
For Rana, any win is great even though tonight, “Queen’s just kind of packed it in.” The Rams head coach believed that the final margin was as much a reflection of the Gaels’ poor performance as it was his team’s play. “I don’t want to get too high and think we played a great game,” he said. “We were okay, and at times showed the type of energy and intensity we needed.”
Rana made sure to praise the play of fourth-year forward Luke Staniscia, one of three Rams who scored in double figures with 19 points on just eight shots taken. “Luke’s been doing that all year, right?”
Indeed. “(Staniscia) just competes, he battles on the boards,” said Rana. “He’s just a physical kid, he’s perfect for this team.”
Staniscia said that, “It’s a nice thing to hear (and) everybody appreciates when you hear that from the coach.” He was, however, quick to praise the play of his teammates for finding him for easy baskets.
Offensively, the Rams received a strong effort from rookie Jahmal Jones recording a game-high 25 points (on just 13 shots) on his way to being named the “‘Hero Burger’ Hero of the Game.” Fellow rookie Jordon Gauthier also scored in double figures with 14 points.
As Staniscia puts it, Ryerson usually receives a balanced scoring effort and this is precisely why the Rams could be dangerous for future opponents. “It’s never one guy scoring a lot (of points), it’s always balanced.”
“We feel confident that we can get (another win) tomorrow and keep the streak going,” said Pryce in anticipation of his next game against the struggling RMC (0-14).
At the end of the day, this is really all that matters. Continuing the streak.