FREDERICTON – The Ryerson women’s basketball team will play for Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) gold on Sunday after defeating the No. 1-ranked McGill Martlets 87-72 Saturday afternoon.
This is the first time ever that a Ryerson women’s basketball team has made it to the CIS finals. No Ryerson varsity team has ever made it to the finals at a CIS championship.
The team will play the No. 2 Saskatchewan Huskies in the finals. The Huskies beat No. 3 Saint Mary’s 65-58 in the semifinals.
Coach Carly Clarke said she never felt like the No. 5 Rams were an underdog to the Martlets.
“I don’t think we felt like (underdogs)…but we used it as motivation,” Clarke said. “But I don’t think in terms of confidence and preparation that we felt like an underdog at all.”
The Rams pulled out to an early lead and never surrendered it.
“I can’t believe it.”
Silvana Jez, a six-foot-one guard, was awarded player of the game after hitting four of seven three-pointers and getting six rebounds.
“I can’t believe it,” said Jez, who is in her fifth-year with the team. “Just to know that last year we finished I think it was sixth, to going into the finals. Obviously we can tell the improvement we’ve had over the year, and just to know that is just an amazing feeling.”
Ryan Thorne, head coach of the Martlets and this year’s CIS coach of the year said that the game was tough and they lost because of discipline issues.
“We lost it in the first half, we weren’t focussed,” he said. “I know the reality is these are the best teams in the country. If you’re undisciplined against them in any way, you’re going to pay for it. And that’s what happened.”
Rams pack gets group hug
The Rams had lots of support, including the ever-loud and enthusiastic Rams Pack – a group of about 20 students dressed up in blue and gold and ready to cheer on their team. After Jez was awarded player of the game, she group-hugged the Rams Pack.
John Austin, Ryerson’s executive director of student affairs, and Heather Lane Vetere, Ryerson’s vice provost, students, were also at the game to cheer on the Rams.
Lane Vetere has been working with the team since August, profiling, photographing and writing about them for In Their Shoes Project – her website where she chronicles campus life by engaging and interacting with it.
Last year’s Rams made it to the CIS championship, but lost in the quarter-finals.
Huskies and Rams tipped off this past the fall
The Rams played the Huskies last October in an exhibition game when the Huskies won 92-82.
“We were really looking for another opportunity to play (Saskatchewan),” Clarke said. “They’re a great team and they’re going to be a tough challenge.”