Louis Gauthier (Ottawa): 25 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Jordon Gauthier (Ryerson): 27 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block
TORONTO, ON – On seniors’ night at Kerr Hall Gym, the Ryerson faithful got exactly what they wanted: a Rams victory, by the count of 85-76 over the visiting Ottawa Gee-Gees.
The win moves the Rams into a tie for third with the Gee-Gees in the OUA East division. Both teams stand at 10-10 right now, and each has tough games remaining against the Toronto Varsity Blues and powerhouse Carleton Ravens.
Something has to give, as they say.
Before the game, fifth-year players Ryan McNeilly and Steve Williams were honored as they were about to play their second-to-last home game of their career (i.e. playoffs notwithstanding).
“It’s been a long time,” said McNeilly who beat the Gee-Gees for the first time in his five-year career. “The fact that we were able to bounce back against one of the better teams in the conference, and possibly in the country, shows what can happen when you stick with it.”
The Rams were eager to start the game on a good note for their two teammates.
“It was seniors’ night, so it was great to send them out with a win against a team they hadn’t beaten,” said rookie Jordon Gauthier who scored a game-high 27 points. “It’s a great win for us for the standings, but it’s also an emotional win for the seniors, that means a lot.”
Ryerson players and head coach Roy Rana were cautious not to attribute their great start to the pre-game ceremony, but Ottawa thought it played a role.
“That was a tough loss definitely,” said third-year guard Jacob Gibson-Bascombe. “We just didn’t come out with the intensity and the focus that we needed to. It’s never easy, they (were) pumped for their seniors’ night.”
The Rams led the entire first half and enjoyed a 7-point cushion at the break, 44-37.
A reason for the Rams advantage was that the players, even when their shots didn’t fall as usual (e.g. they shot 39% for the game), were able to up the ante on defense and force many turnovers. The Gee-Gees shot only 39% from the field as well, and committed 16 turnovers. This led to transition opportunities and in those situations, the combo of rookie Jahmal Jones and third-year Ola Adegboruwa is very dangerous.
“That’s what we do best, we get out and run,” said Jones. “It makes the game fun.”
The third quarter was not so much fun for Ryerson as Ottawa outscored the Rams 25-18 and erased their lead. Entering the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 62. The Rams would take the early lead in the quarter, only to be tied again at 75 with a few minutes remaining. From then, Ryerson closed the game on a 10-1 run for the final margin.
“I think we just ran out of gas at the end,” said Gibson-Bascombe. “That’s what happens when you finally come back, we needed that extra push but didn’t have it tonight.”
Though he was pleased to see that his team battled back throughout the game, the point guard hopes his team can start the game better on Feb. 12 against Toronto.
“(Otherwise), we are going to find ourselves in the same position and probably the same outcome,” said Gibson-Bascombe.
3 players scored in double-figures for the Gee-Gees, led by Louis Gauthier’s team-high 25 points. The others were rookie Johnny Berhanemeskel and third-year Warren Ward, who chipped in with 19 and 14 points.
For the Rams, Gauthier led the way, but senior McNeilly had 20 and guard Ola Adegboruwa managed 14.
Ryerson’s Gauthier explained his high scoring night with the play of some of his teammates and that Ottawa seemed content on stopping other players like Jones and McNeilly. “It’s a very unselfish group of guys and my teammates did a great job of finding me,” said Gauthier.
On his part, McNeilly reflected on a new role he has taken on for his final season. “This year, I’ve tried to be more of a vocal leader (especially) since we’re very young.”
McNeilly’s leadership was obvious in the fourth quarter when Gauthier and Akeem Gardner got tangled up and exchanged shoves and McNeilly stepped in to make sure it wouldn’t go any further.
“They hit some of my guys and we had had enough so I let them knew,” said McNeilly of the incident.
This represents well the Ryerson season as the team started with a poor record of 2-8. Yet, the Rams bounced back, going 8-2 in the following 10 games and proving they could be a dangerous team in the playoffs. Before that, however, McNeilly said he wants the team to win at least one of their final two games.
“We want to host a playoff game.”
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @CeeeBG