Fifth year guard Aaron Best shoots the long jumper over the Carlton defender (Christian Thomson/Ryersonian Staff).
By Michael Grace-Dacosta
A rambunctious crowd at the Mattamy Athletic Centre witnessed history this weekend as the Ryerson men’s basketball team beat the Carleton Ravens, 79-61. It was the Rams’ first win against the Ravens in 16 years.
“We had a plan coming into the week, like, ‘hey we’re going to get two wins and we’re going to be number one on Monday,’” said Rams interim head coach Patrick Tatham.
After the Ravens stellar defence helped them grab a commanding 14-2 lead to start the game, Tatham looked to his bench for help by inserting Jean-Victor (JV) Mukama and Filip Vujadinovic into the game.
“JV has so much length, it’s almost unheard of in the OUA (Ontario University Athletics). He’s a secret weapon off the bench and then we can bring in the toughness with Fil, we’re just gonna claw back into the game and it worked out great,” said Tatham.
The Rams cut the lead to six by the end of the quarter and eventually took the lead in the second to go into halftime with up 32-29.
The Rams blew the game wide open in the third frame. Their intense defence held the Ravens to just 11 points in the quarter and neutralized their star guards Kaza Kajami-Keane and Guillaume Boucard limiting them to just 3-13 and 2-10 respectively from the field.
Third-year guard Ammanuel Diressa led the way for the Rams offensively scoring nine of his game-high 21 points in the quarter, three of which came off a tough, off-balanced pull up three-pointer.
“I had more looks and just sort of got more comfortable,” said Diressa.
In the fourth quarter the Rams lead ballooned up to as much as 20 points to beat the Ravens for the first time in their last 33 meetings.
Ryerson continued to roll Saturday when they hosted the best team in Canada, the Ottawa Gee-Gees. With Ryerson leading 83-80, and 38 seconds remaining on the clock, Ottawa’s star point guard Mike L’Africain (14 points, four assists, two steals) had the ball in his hands with a chance to tie the game. As he drove to the basket Ryerson’s Mukama stripped him of the ball then sunk two free throws to secure the win, 87-80, and the best weekend in program history.
“If you go back in the replay you can see me pointing at the sky because it’s all thanks to God,” Mukama said. “This could be the number one team in the country and I don’t know if Ryerson has ever been number one.”
Ryerson guard Diressa lead the way again for the Rams scoring a game-high 29 points. Guard Aaron Best added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“It felt good because I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately and it was a big game for the team and a lot of guys who have been here for a while,” said Diressa.
The Rams record now stands at 8-1 with their only loss coming to the Windsor Lancers in a game in which the Rams were without rim protectors Kadeem Green and Adam Voll.
Ryerson will head up north to play the Laurentian Voyageurs and Nippissing Lakers. Their next game at the Mattamy Athletic Centre is on Feb. 3, against the number three ranked team in the country, the Brock Badgers. By then, the Rams could see an improvement in the national rankings, where they currently sit fifth.
“We will be the number one team on Monday, no ifs, ands, buts or maybes. Not being arrogant or cocky but I think our guys deserve it,” said Tatham.