Women’s basketball team advances to OUA Final Four for the first time in Ryerson history

Ryerson’s women’s basketball team is moving on to the OUA Final Four for the first time in school history after a convincing 73-47 quarter-final victory over the Ottawa Gee-Gees, on Saturday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

The Rams were able to overcome an Ottawa team ranked No. 1 in the OUA in terms of defence.

Led by star guard Keneca Pingue-Giles, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds on the night, Ryerson was able to create time and space on the offensive side of the ball, controlling the play and opening up high-percentage shots.

Pingue-Giles said the Rams’ quick ball movement allowed Ryerson to counteract the Gee-Gees’ well-structured defence.

The Ryerson women's basketball team was able to create time and space on the offensive side of the ball, controlling the play and opening up high-percentage shots. (Courtesy of Ryersonian Staff)

The Ryerson women’s basketball team was able to create time and space on the offensive side of the ball, controlling the play and opening up high-percentage shots. (Courtesy of Alex Lyle/Ryersonian Staff)

“(The Gee-Gees) have to be great defensively because they’re really undersized,” said Pingue-Giles. “We were able to get the ball inside and kick it back outside. We got their defence moving, made some threes, and that allowed us to attack the rim.”

Despite Pingue-Giles’s dominant performance, it was the Rams’ ball distribution that made this an all-around team effort, with Sofia Paska, Chloe Mago, Silvana Jez, Annie Sokoloff, Cara Tiemens and Mariah Nunes all recording multi-basket games.

Nunes, who had four rebounds and 11 points of her own, said taking advantage of Ottawa’s lack of size was the key.

“We talked a lot about staying composed and sticking to the game plan before the game,” said Nunes. “We knew that they weren’t very big, so we tried to get it in down low to create mismatches with our bigger posts and exploit their weaknesses.”

The Rams got off to a bit of a rocky start, with Ottawa’s Stephanie MacDonald draining a three-pointer just seconds into the game, but Ryerson managed to rally, going on an 8-0 run and taking a two-point lead to the second quarter.

Ottawa fans had come out in full force but, like turning down the music to an annoying Justin Bieber song, the Rams slowly quieted the rowdy Gee-Gees fans as they took over the game. By halftime, Ryerson had a 32-21 lead.

“Our length and our ball pressure disrupted them and sped them up a little bit, which I was pleased with.”

By the third quarter, the Rams’ momentum had picked up and nothing seemed to be going right for the visitors.

Gee-Gees forward Jennifer Crowe passed to what seemed to be an invisible person, Ottawa looked frantically disorganized and, in the end, Ryerson’s pressure defence was just too much to handle. To add insult to injury, Pingue-Giles stole the ball from Gee-Gees guard Kellie Forand, sped down the court, and put home the basket to give the Rams a 43-28 lead with under five minutes to go in the third quarter. They would never look back.

Ryerson’s coach, Carly Clarke, credits her defence for holding the Gee-Gees to just five successful three-pointers on 29 attempts (17.2 per cent).

“They had been shooting the ball really well from three-point range this season,” said Clarke. “Our length and our ball pressure disrupted them and sped them up a little bit, which I was pleased with.”

The Rams will travel to Windsor for the OUA Final Four, where they will face the Queen’s Gaels in the semifinals.

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