FREDERICTON – It wasn’t the result they were looking for but the Ryerson Rams women’s basketball team made history on Sunday afternoon, winning the school’s first ever CIS silver medal. The Rams dropped the national championship game 85-71 to the Saskatchewan Huskies, who took home their program’s first title with the win.
In her final game as a Ram, CIS Player of the Year Keneca Pingue-Giles (Winnipeg, Man.) poured in 26 points and added six rebounds, four assists and two steals while fellow fifth year senior Mariah Nunes (Ajax, Ont.) added eight points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in the loss.
“It’s hard; I’m definitely emotional about it,” said head coach Carly Clarke following the game. “I’m so proud of these kids and they’ve worked just so hard and we lost first but we won second. They’ve come so far and are deserving; hopefully they’re proud to wear the silver medal,” she added while holding back tears.
The final 14-point spread is not indicative of how close the championship game was as the teams traded the lead on four occasions and were tied on six others. The Rams largest lead came in the second quarter when they led by nine, while Saskatchewan’s biggest lead was the final 14-point difference.
The Rams trailed 13-11 at the first quarter media timeout but took their first lead moments later when Pingue-Giles converted on an and-one play to lead 16-13. By the end of the opening ten minutes the Rams lead had grown to four at 22-18.
In the second quarter it was the Rams defence that generated easy scores and with 6:15 left in the frame the lead had grown to nine at 31-22. The media timeout seemed to give the Huskies a lift as out of the stoppage they came back to take a 34-33 lead before hitting a tough shot in the lane at the buzzer to hold a 42-40 edge over Ryerson heading to halftime.
Saskatchewan came out firing from three point range in the third and quickly expanded their lead to 54-46. Ryerson’s Pingue-Giles put the team on her back in the third, scoring 15 of her 26 points in the frame, but the Rams faced a 69-61 deficit heading into the final ten minutes.
Ryerson opened the fourth on a 6-0 run to get to within two at 69-67 with 7:30 remaining but from there the Huskies played smothering defence and held the Rams to just four more points in the quarter as they pulled away for the championship victory.
Pingue-Giles and Silvana Jez (Kitchener, Ont.) were both named tournament all-stars after the game.
The CIS silver medal is the first in program and school history and complements the team’s first ever OUA Championship victory.