A rare thing happened on Saturday night at the Goldring Centre in Toronto. A crowd came to watch U Sports.
The University of Toronto Varsity Blues were scheduled to play the Ryerson Rams, their downtown rivals. Despite there being a preeminent rivalry, oftentimes even that is not enough to draw an above-average crowed. However, it was different for the men’s and women’s doubleheader which drew a fervorous crowd for both games, growing greater as the evening went on.
It got off to a good start for the Rams, as the women won handily 84-53. There are many coaches and players who emphasize the importance of taking game sin small bits- that’s exactly what Ryerson did.
Every quarter of the women’s game was won by Ryerson. Even if it was just by a single point, the winning mentality could be found in every 12-minute interval that was played that night. There was not a time where the Rams look like they knew they had won, they fought right until the end.
As is usually the case for Ryerson, their offence was led by a pair of players, Rather than it being last week’s Ryerson Athletics “Athlete of the Week,” Jama Bin-Edward, the scoring weight fell upon the shoulders of the ever-reliable Marin Scotten, who put up 21 points. While her contributions were aided by fifth-year guard Hayley Robertson, who also got 21 points herself.
Ranked fifth in the nation, the Ryerson Rams were expected to win the game as they did over the unraked Varsity Blues.
However, it was a special night on Toronto’s court, as they hosted “Shoot for the Cure,” the initiative that U Sports is doing which supports women’s health. The theme of the night was pink, everything from pink balloons around the arena to pink jerseys and even pink wordmarks on the game balls. It was interesting timing of the event, as the Ryerson Rams women’s hockey team hosted their own initiative day, although in support of the #BellLetsTalk mental health movement. Whichever movement is chosen to support, both are valuable things that should be supported by more groups than just university teams.
Ryerson’s win is important, but their national standings not so much. Despite being ranked fifth in the country, they are still the third-best in the OUA. fortunately for the big city school, they do not find themselves in the same division as Carleton and Ottawa, but they will have to get past one of those teams if they are to make the national championships in the spring. Their win keeps them atop the Central Divison, four points above the next best Brock Badgers while extending their win streak to eight games.
If the Toronto women thought they had a tough time, they have a full roster that can share their sentiment. The men did not have it any easier, but that fact was not as clearly expected as it was on the women’s side of things, as neither school was ranked in the nation’s top 10 ahead of tip-off.
Prior to the game, and for a matter of fact, also after, both teams found themselves in mediocre spots. Although it was ryerson who came into the game in the higher position and left the game with a win under their belt. Not only was it another two points, but it also brings them within a single game of the second spot in the conference and the playoff spot that comes with.
Ryerson prevailed 94-73, but that’s not to say that the Varsity Blues played terribly. One of the highlights for the Blues was the play of Evan Shadkami. The third-year guard put up a career-high of 35 points, nearly half of all of his team’s total. Another player that highlighted the Blues’ night was Chris Barrett, who was well-rounded on both sides of the ball.
On the Rams side of things, it was a well-played game all around, but there was one shot that stood out among the rest. OUA All-Star Tevaun Kokko took the opportunity in the dying seconds of the second quarter to launch a low percentage shot from his own end, only to have in go through the net and add another three points to Ryerson’s night.
“We shoot half-court shots every game day so it’s like getting my reps up,” Kokko said, to Ryerson’s student newspaper, The Eyeopener, before continuing on to say, “I saw the clock with two seconds on it, so I decided to throw it up and give it a chance.”
Ryerson now moves into second place in their division, setting themselves up nicely for the final push towards the playoffs.
Both the men and women will host the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees on Friday night back on their home court. Each of the Gee-Gees teams will be a tough task for the Rams, as they both ranked within the top five in last week’s U Sports Top 10 Rankings.
Cover Photo: Benjamin Steiner