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- Richard Iheadindu: 21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists
- David Tyndale: 11 points, 4 assists
- Jordon Gauthier: 25 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks
- Ola Adegboruwa: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals
PHOTO COURTESY: Stephen Kassim, RYERSON ATHLETICS
TORONTO, ON-It’s the last home weekend of the regular season for the Ryerson Rams, and the importance isn’t lost on the team.
Ryerson head coach Roy Rana preached to his team not to look ahead and focus on the game at hand. “We made sure they understood the importance of this game,” he said.
This game was against the visiting York Lions and despite a sluggish first half the Rams walked out of Kerr Hall Gym with a convincing 91-76 win.
Rams second-year Jordon Gauthier said simply that, “Hopefully, this is one more win.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair between the two teams. The Rams jumped ahead, 10-3, but York closed the first quarter on a 13-2 run behind two three-point shots by fourth-year point guard David Tyndale and another from rookie Richard Iheadindu. The team made another three three-pointers in the second quarter, which helped create a 37-35 halftime lead for the Lions.
Rana thought that his team lacked a little something in the first half. “We just didn’t have great energy,” he said. “(York) really shot the three really well, we just didn’t defend really well in the first half.”
But the truth is that the Rams were right there. If not for a few easy misses around the rim, it would have been Ryerson with the halftime lead. Fourth-year guard Ola Adegboruwa, especially, looked to attack the York defense every chance he got.
York now has a 3-16 record, but the Lions are probably better than their record suggests if you ask Rams second-year Jordon Gauthier. “York isn’t a slouch team,” he said.
Head coach Tom Oliveri loved the way his team played in the first half. “We were forcing the play,” he said. “When we execute the game plan, we are very pleased with the effort.”
The script was flipped in the second half. “We came out in the third quarter and just took care of business,” Rana said. “What we should have done in the first half, we got it done in the third quarter.”
Indeed, the Rams were now the team making the shots-the dunks, too! The game turned in the third quarter, when dunks by Aaron Best (twice) and Jordon Gauthier in the span of three minutes created momentum for the home team. “It was a momentum shift,” Gauthier said. “It was a spark.”
Rana echoed Gauthier. “That’s the way we want to play, we want to be fun and exciting,” he said. “I want these guys to enjoy being aggressive and running.”
It’s Gauthier who helped blow this contest wide open with four three-point shots made to go along with his dunk during that third quarter. Ryerson led 66-53 at the start of the quarter, and were in control of the game. The Rams were finally able to put the Lions away when back-to-back three-pointers from Adegboruwa pushed the lead to 20 points, 80-60.
The importance of this run wasn’t lost on Oliveri. “That spurred a little run for them, that opened up the game,” he said.
So much so that the last six minutes of play were essentially a formality.
Oliveri told NPH that he thought Ryerson made the shots they needed to make when they needed them. “Credit to them,” he said. However, the second half showed the youth of the Lions. “We have to learn how to close games,” he said. “It’s a work in progress.”
Still, there were some bright spots such as the play of rookie Richard Iheadindu who led his team with 21 points. But three other players also scored over 10 points-Aaron Rados (12), Noble-mohammed (10) and David Tyndale (11).
Tyndale remained on his team’s bench for the last 11 minutes of play, but was none too pleased about it. He’s the team leader, and he wants to play. Oliveri probably thought he could use the rest and focus on the next game. “With a game (tonight) and with the playoffs looming,” he said, “I didn’t want to risk him at all.”
The Lions visit the Toronto Varsity Blues on Saturday. And if all goes according to plan, Tyndale is looking forward to another visit at Ryerson’s Kerr Hall Gym-this time for the playoffs. Shock the world, maybe? But first are three remaining games to decided whether York will qualify for the playoffs.
Offensively, Gauthier led the way with a game-high 25 points but Adegboruwa (16), Staniscia (14) and Jones (11) also scored in double figures. Adegboruwa, especially, played a great game as he attacked the basket every chance he had.
For their last regular season game on their home gym on Saturday night, the Rams welcome the Laurentian Voyageurs. Head coach Shawn Swords’s team trails Ryerson by two games in the OUA East standings, but has already beaten Rana’s team earlier this season.
Combined with the Laurentian loss against Toronto on Friday night, Gauthier told NPH that it becomes the most important game of the year. “It means Laurentian is going to come here hungry,” he said. “We just have to do our best to play our game.”