VANCOUVER – The magic ran out for the Rams men’s basketball team last night but it hopes to conjur it one more time today.
The team’s championship run is over, but instead it will play for the consolation bronze against Dalhousie University at 5 p.m. EST.
“The bronze is huge but the guys just have to get motivated for it,” said Jordan Henry, the Rams play-by-play announcer who has followed the team throughout the season.
“[Rams and Tiger guards] Adika Peter-McNeilly and Ritchie Kanza Mata will have a great battle,” he added.
The Rams took home bronze in the national tournament last year.
Last night they lost to the University of Calgary Dinos 98-87 in the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) semifinals while Dalhousie University lost to Carleton University.
Though the Rams talked about avoiding it, they came out slow in the first quarter again and they found themselves trailing early against the Dinos.
“There is only so much you can do before the magic runs out, and it ran it tonight, that is for sure,” said Rams interim head coach Patrick Tatham about the loss.
The Rams had trailed against the University of Windsor and Carleton University on the way to their provincial championship win last weekend.
Then the team narrowly escaped its quarterfinal match up against the host University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on March 17.
Dinos’ Cooper nets 30 points, 11 rebounds
For moments it looked like the Rams might wave the wand again, but ultimately the team shot 15 per cent from the three-point range, bucketing six of 39 attempts.
And the Rams were only 35 per cent from elsewhere in the field.
For the Calgary Dinos Thomas Cooper, the team’s star player, came to play and delivered. The Rams had also talked about slowing him down but they did not. He averaged 25.5 points per game this season and was one of the finalists for CIS player of the year.
Cooper put up 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, earning himself a double-double.
“He [Cooper] is a leader, he’s confident. He is a walking event for us,” said Daniel Vanhooren, head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos. “He is obviously a great offensive player, and from a rebounding perspective he is helping us a ton.”
Dinos guard Jasdeep Gill also came up clutch off the bench in the fourth quarter, knocking down multiple three pointers and finishing 9-12 from the field with 23 points.
“He [Gill] was huge,” Cooper said of his teammate. “He hit huge threes, timely threes at the end of the shot clock. He made them right when we needed them, when they [Ryerson] were on a 6-0 run.”
Adika Peter-McNeilly led the way for the Rams offensively, putting up 22 points. Ammanuel Diressa added 20.
The team will be looking to repeat the bronze medal it won at last year’s CIS but even if the outcome is the same, Tatham said they took greater steps this year.
“It has been a great year,” Tatham said. “We made some history at this school, and the success from the program is still high. We are going to continue on that.”
Last weekend the Rams won their first OUA (Ontario Athletics Association) banner and it was their first trip to the CIS semifinals.
The game’s other theme is that the university hoops careers for guard Aaron Best and forward Kadeem Green come to an end this evening.
Watch for The Ryersonian’s live blog pre-game coverage of the bronze medal match.