Rams tip off against No. 1-ranked McGill in CIS semifinal

(Rebecca Goss/Ryersonian Staff)

(Rebecca Goss/Ryersonian Staff)

FREDERICTON – Ryerson’s women’s basketball Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) semifinal matchup will pit the Rams against a team that they have not played more than five years.

The Rams will face off against the McGill Martlets, the top seed in the tournament, on Saturday March 19 at 1:30 p.m. EST.

The fifth-seed Rams will be playing for an underdog win and a chance to play in the gold medal match on Sunday. The women’s basketball team has never made it past the quarter-finals at the CIS championship before.

The quarter-final games were close for both teams – the Martlets beating the University of New Brunswick 58-52 and the Rams narrowly edging out the University of Regina 73-70.

Thursday night’s game “was a big, big win,” said Carly Clarke, Ryerson’s head coach. “I think we’re feeling confident but at the same time aware that McGill’s a pretty good team, No. 1 seed is always a little bit intimidating but we’ll be ready to play.”

Provincial champions

Both teams came into the championships with provincial wins under their belt – McGill winning the Quebec provincial title for the fifth consecutive year – and CIS award wins. The Rams’ Keneca Pingue-Giles was named CIS player of the year, while the Martlet’s head coach Ryan Thorne was named CIS coach of the year.

Rams guard Mariah Nunes (Rebecca Goss/Ryersonian Staff)

Rams guard Mariah Nunes (Rebecca Goss/Ryersonian Staff)

Pingue-Giles, who was six for 10 in three-pointers in the quarter-final game, and Silvana Jez, who played 36 minutes in the quarter-final game and scored 12 points.

None of the players on either team have competed against each other before. Second-year player Cara Tiemans said the Rams are aware of McGill’s strong post team but the Rams are “ready to go.”

Big post presence

From the Martlets, watch out for Mariam Sylla, a 6’1’’ forward who averaged 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game during the regular season, and Alex Kiss-Rusk, a 6’4’’ centre who averaged 13.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game during the regular season.

A key difference between the two teams is experience. The Martlets have five rookies on their roster, compared to Ryerson’s one. Both teams have a handful of players over six feet tall – Ryerson with five and McGill with four.

Fifth-year guard Mariah Nunes said that the team making it to the semifinals is “unreal.”

“It’s such an amazing feeling just to be here and have the opportunity and experience to get this far,” she said. “It just feels like a great accomplishment, especially as a team and individually we all worked so hard … it’s really paying off.”

The winning team tomorrow will go on to play for gold on Sunday against either Saint Mary’s or Saskatchewan, while the losing team will play on Sunday for bronze.

The semifinal and gold medal games will be broadcast across Canada on Sportsnet and livestreamed on the CIS website. Tune into The Ryersonian’s live blog of the games for colourful interviews, photos and videos of the event.

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