U Sports Basketball: Ryerson makes a statement against the top 5

“Close but no cigar.”

The age-old saying fit too near perfection for the Ryerson Rams this past weekend. These past two days have been circled in red on the schedule, as two of the strongest teams in the nation came to downtown Toronto.

Ryerson, who was unranked in the latest U Sports Top 10 were not expected to get anything against the Ottawa Gee-Gee’s, who ranked fifth and were even less likely to compete with the astounding outfit that is the Carleton Ravens.

Although on paper the teams may not have matched up, the weekend was a lot closer than many expected.

First was the fifth-ranked Ottawa gee-gees. Although they were the lesser of the two opponents, many still did not give them much of a chance, however, the doubters were put to bed when the Rams defeated the Gee-Gees 91-67.

The duo of Tevaun Kokko and Tanor Ngom were once again the key pieces for Ryerson in their win. Kokko did not skip a beat in the first quarter, dropping fifteen points. His fast start was the first sign that the Ryerson Rams were not just here for participation, rather they felt they deserved to be in the Top 10.

Kokko (7) reaches for the ball against University of Toronto (Benjamin Steiner)

Although the home side trailed after the first 12 minutes, the crowd at the Coca-Cola Court began to believe that their boys in blue and gold could get the job done. Ryerson’s second quarter was where things really began to change. The Rams outscored Ottawa 16-6, giving them a stronghold of the score going into the halftime break.

After gaining the lead midway through the second quarter, Ryerson never gave it up again, as they cruised to their sixth straight victory.

Following the game, Rams head coach Broko Popic was giddy about his team’s defence, the primary thing which led them to their win.

The win made a buzz across U Sports, as it’s quite rare to see an unranked team pull off such an upset. However, the ecstasy couldn’t last too long as the Rams had to get set to face the legendary Ravens less than 24 hours later.

It was the game against the Ravens where the Rams failed to get the proverbial “cigar.” the thought of a possible win ran through the heads of many Ryerson fans, as the team’s confidence and play were as high as it could possibly be. That led to this writer making a gentleman’s bet with another member of the media, as I truly thought that the Toronto school could pull off the upset.

It was nearly an upset, as the Rams pushed Carleton to the final buzzer, leading the nation’s best Ravens to their second-lowest point differential of the year.

Nearly everything was going right for Ryerson. Kokko was scoring, Ngom was dunking and Jayden Fredrik was blocking as many shots as humanly possible. With all of that, it created an unbelievable buzz throughout the packed Mattamy Atheltic Centre court.

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(Hung Lee/ Ryerson University)

It was a slow third quarter which did the Rams in, but the rest of the game was unbelievable. Last week I took in an unreal U Sports hockey game between the Ryerson Rams and York Lions, and less than a week later, the downtown Toronto school put on another thriller.

Although the Rams fell to the Ravens by five points and lost their win streak, the challenge they presented is something they should be proud of.

With the win over Ottawa and a close call against Carleton, Ryerson could find themselves int the U Sports top ten when it comes out on Tuesday, very possibly bumping out their next opponent, the McMaster Maraduers who visit Toronto Wednesday.

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