OTTAWA – The Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team won their first OUA championship in program history on Saturday night, earning a hard fought 66-60 victory over the Ottawa Gee-Gees at Ottawa’s Montpetit Hall.
Sophomore Sofia Paska (Etobicoke, Ont.) was named the Porter Airlines Player of the Game with a 19 point, 12 rebound double-double performance. Fifth year players Mariah Nunes (Ajax, Ont.) and Silvana Jez (Kitchener, Ont.) each netted 17 points and collected eight rebounds in the victory.
OUA Player of the Year Keneca Pingue-Giles (Winnipeg, Man.) got into foul trouble and was held to just eight points but she had no trouble watching her team from the bench as the Rams claimed their first championship.
“It’s so crazy; five years ago when we were playing in Kerr Hall I don’t think I could have ever imagined (this),” said Pingue-Giles. “I remember our coach asking us ‘what’s your goals?’ and I wanted to be rookie of the year. That didn’t happen but fast forward five years later and I’m Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and an OUA champion…that’s mind blowing. It could never have been possible without my teammates; it’s so fulfilling.”
The Rams struggled in the first quarter and were significantly outrebounded but managed to scratch out a 16-15 advantage after ten minutes. Ryerson extended their lead to six points at halftime, leading 35-29.
Ottawa started the second half strong and quickly cut the lead back to just one, but the Rams weathered the storm and held onto a 51-46 lead after three quarters.
The teams continued to trade blows in the fourth until Ryerson was able to seal the victory.
“I think I’m still reeling about the game but it’s fun to watch these girls enjoy it; they’ve earned it and they deserve it,” said head coach Carly Clarke after the win.
When asked about her team’s leadership group, Clarke was eager to congratulate her fifth year players Pingue-Giles, Nunes, and Jez.
“(I am) so incredibly proud; they lived the fifth year veteran role to a ‘T’ this weekend. Some of them struggled today but Kenny came in and got some key rebounds, made some key buckets at key moments and Mariah was outstanding today at both ends. It’s just so fun to see them grow into leaders and be able to celebrate this today.”
The Critelli Cup championship was just minutes from being Ryerson’s first ever championship in any sport, as the women’s game ended moments after the Rams men’s team struck gold on home court.
Ryerson’s season continues next week when they fly to Fredericton, N.B. to compete at the CIS Final 8 championship tournament hosted by the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds. Tournament seeding and scheduling will be released on March 13.