U Sports Basketball: Rams trot to a pair of wins over Mustangs

Ryerson basketball was back on their home court for the inaugural games of the 2020s as they hosted a matinee affair against the Western Mustangs, who boast some of the top basketball talents in the OUA.

The women’s teams hit the floor first and the game proved to be one that could not be missed. The matchup pitted two of the top teams in the OUA women’s basketball standings against each other, as both sat atop their respective divisions at 20 and 22 points. Although the Mustangs came into the game with a pair of points on the Rams as well as a 12 game win-streak, it was not that way by the end as Ryerson squeaked out an 85-73 win over their London based counterparts.

While the team effort from Ryerson was something to be heralded, especially their shutdown play on Western’s top point scorers, it was two-players in the offence which led the Rams to their sixth straight win. Of the home sides 85 points, 68 of them came from Jama Bin-Edward and Hayley Robertson.

Rams guard Hayley Robertson splits two defenders and drives to the basket.
Photo: Christian Bender

For Bin-Edward, her shooting from above the arc was something to be jealous of, she scored 11 of her 17 three-point attempts, something that proved crucial to her team’s performance. Roberston, on the other hand, scored nearly half of her distance attempts. Regardless of how they scored, each put up 29 points, good enough to top both of their season highs.

2020 may be less than two weeks old, but it has already become a year to remember for Bin-Edward. In the Rams opening game of the year against McMaster, she posted a then season-high number of points with 22, only to follow that up with her massive output against Western.

With the result, the teams now are tied on points and Western is without their lengthy win streak. Now that the 12 game burner from Western has evaporated, the OUA’s longest win streak is six, a total shared by Ryerson, Ottawa and Windsor.

On the men’s side of things, it was not as even a matchup as the women had to go in. Western again sat atop the OUA, whilst Ryerson found themselves third in their division, much in need of the points in their playoff search.

As is a common mantra in sports, “win streaks don’t matter when the game starts,” and that is exactly what the case was once the ball tipped off between the Rams and Mustangs men’s teams. Rather than coming out and blowing away the large contingent of Western fans with superior basketball, the Mustangs curled up and defended low, allowing the home side to put up many points early in the game.

By the time the clock buzzed for half-time, the Mustangs trailed downtown Toronto school 54-31, one of their biggest half time deficits of the season.

Things did improve for the Mustangs, but not well enough as they ended up falling 87-82 to Ryerson, who picked up 2 very important points.

Location, Location, Location- a common saying in real estate also rang true between the rosters of the two teams. They are built very differently, something that can be accredited completely to their place in Canada. With a quick glance at the rosters, it is not hard to miss the fact that the two teams’ international representation contrasts greatly.

Western, although being one of the top schools in the country and often have a strong basketball program only have a single player from outside of Ontario. That player is Jerric Palma, formerly one of the best players in British Columbia’s high school basketball scene.

Palma takes a shot for Western against Teevaun Koko of the Ryerson Rams (Benjamin Steiner)

Ryerson, on the other hand, doesn’t only boast talent from outside of Ontario, but also outside of Canada. France and Senegal are represented on the roster, alongside four provinces in Canada. Being located in the largest metropolitan area in the country, it is a much more attractive option for many players outside of Ontario. But it’s not only the location but also is the alumni of the program. Sacramento Kings assistant coach Roy Rana coached at the Toronto school until last year and led them to multiple U Sports championships throughout his time coaching the Rams.

One of those foreign players, Tanor Ngom had a historic afternoon, setting a new school record with 23 rebounds. His grasp on the record will likely stay for a long time and is one of the reasons why attracting out of country talent is valuable.

Speaking to the media after his historic achievement, Ngom said “In my first year here at Ryerson, I told Roy Rana (head coach of 2017-2018 season) that my main goal in basketball, and in life, was to be remembered. So to be able to say that I’m in the record books of the school forever, it feels amazing, to be honest.”

Photo: Christian Bender

The dual win day was crucial and historic for Ryerson, all the while being disastrous for Western. Both Ryerson sides will now head up to Waterloo for a pair of games against the Waterloo Warriors, while Western travel to take on the Brock Badgers in search of starting another win streak.

Cover Photo: Benjamin Steiner

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