Fourth quarter comeback stretches Rams win streak to five
TORONTO - Fourth quarter magic saw the Ryerson Rams leave their trip to the University of Toronto with their winning streak intact, toppling the Varsity Blues in a late-game 78-69 comeback at the Goldring Centre on Wednesday night.
It was a fairly even matchup on paper heading into Wednesday night’s game. Both teams had similar records against the same teams, setting the stage for a neck and neck battle. Instead, the Varsity Blues would dominate the first three quarters, leaving the Rams in a 10-point hole going into the fourth. Not taking their first lead until the midpoint of the fourth, the Rams held the Blues to only five points in the final frame after three 20+ point quarters, extending their winning streak to five games.
Third year standout guard Reilly Reid (Mississauga, Ont.) lead the way for the Varsity Blues early on. As offensive attention turned to Daniel Johansson (Stockholm, Sweden) - who would go on to put up 24 points - the Blues continued to lock the Rams out, offensively. An incredibly strong U of T defence kept the Rams shooting at threes with no clear openings.
However, the Rams would turn the tide of the game by ramping up their defensive presence to match that of the dominating Blues.
“We just had to be more aggressive, defensively,” Rams assistant coach Borko Popic said. “We were allowing them to get to their spots in the first three quarters, and in the fourth quarter we just kind of locked up and showed some toughness on the ball.”
While the Rams turned their attention to offence, fifth-year senior guard Manny Diressa (Toronto, Ont.) kept the Rams within reach at all times with an incredible presence from three point range. Diressa would go 7-for-9 from three, putting up a Rams season high of 27 points. Incidentally, the 16 threes put up by the entire Rams squad is the second highest in program history.
“[Diressa] made big shots throughout the game to keep us close early,” Popic said, “and then to put us over the top late.”
While the Ryerson Rams improve to 7-2 on the season to take sole possession of second place in the OUA East, there is still one game remaining before winter break. On Saturday night, the 0-8 Lakehead Thunderwolves make their way to the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
As the Rams look to close out the first half of the season on a high note with their winning streak intact, Popic’s goal for 2017’s closer is simple:
“Continue improving and finish strong.”