Photo by Alex D'Addese

Rams fall to Duke in preseason opener

By Jessica Pincente

MISSISSAUGA - A hard-fought battle ended in defeat as the Ryerson Rams fell 86-67 to the Duke Blue Devils in preseason action in front of a sold-out crowd at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Mississauga, Ont.

BOXSCORE

A strong first-quarter performance by the hosts saw Ryerson take a 17-15 lead after 10. Duke’s freshman superstars R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson put on a show for the crowd in the second quarter as the Blue Devils pulled away with a 40-26 lead at halftime.

Williamson had 21 points and 7 rebounds by the 20-minute mark.

Ryerson’s Tanor Ngom (Dakar, Senegal) turned the attention back to the Rams after several jaw-dropping dunks throughout the game. Ngom visibly exchanged words with several Duke players after each of his dunks, later explaining the context.

“I told them, ‘this is our town’,” explains Ngom. “It’s us out here, not them.”

The Rams would eventually fall 86-67 to Blue Devils, an NCAA powerhouse boasting the no. 1 recruiting class in American college basketball.

The game served as a homecoming for Barrett, a Mississauga native who played his first game in the Duke uniform against Ryerson. Barrett, who also plays for Canada’s senior men’s national team, is pretty familiar with Rams head coach Roy Rana.

Rana, who has also served as head coach for Canada’s U19 national team, says Barrett is a very special talent.

“You’re not going to see athletes like R.J. and Zion every day,” says Rana. “I think it bodes well for our season moving forward — that we were able to compete against them for 40 minutes.”

Ryerson fifth-year senior JV Mukama (Hamilton, Ont.) netted a double-double in the game with a team-high 20 points and 12 rebounds. Mukama says the team wasn’t shooting in regular-season form, which was to be expected.

“We’re all about executing well, and not taking bad shots,” says Mukama about the team’s performance. “We were unlucky tonight.”

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski had plenty of positive things to say about Ryerson, Rana, and the atmosphere of the game.

“The crowd was great, and [Ryerson] was obviously an excellent opponent for us,” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “Roy Rana is a terrific coach. I really admire what he’s done with the program.”

Ryerson’s pre-season schedule continues in September as the team will fly out west to compete in the Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament in Victoria, B.C. The team will open their regular season campaign against the Toronto Varsity Blues, Duke’s next Canada Tour opponent, on October 26, 2018, at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.

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