Photo by Alex D'Addese

Rams kick off Final 8 campaign against No. 1 Laval

By Jessica Pincente

TORONTO — The No. 8 Ryerson Rams will look to upset the No. 1 Laval Rouge et Or in their first game of the 2019 U SPORTS Final 8 tournament, facing off in the national quarter-final on Thursday evening in Toronto.

The two teams will meet at 6:00 p.m. at Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.

The Rams finished the regular season ranked third in the OUA East, going on to take a first-round playoff victory over the Laurentian Voyageurs before suffering a 26-point loss to the Carleton Ravens in the conference quarter-final.

Ryerson fifth-year forward Sofia Paska (Etobicoke, Ont.) ranked second in the league with an average of 13 rebounds per game across two postseason matchups, while guards Leyki Sorra (Toronto, Ont.) and Rachel Farwell (Rothesay, N.B.) respectively clocked in at third (55.6 percent) and fifth (50.0 percent) in the OUA in three-point percentage.

Now, with their regular season qualms and triumphs behind them, the Rams will look to make a splash at the 2019 U SPORTS Final 8 national championship as they attempt to take down the first-ranked Laval Rouge et Or.

Laval maintained a number one national ranking throughout much of the regular season, capping off their 2018-19 campaign with a 15-1 record and an RSEQ championship.  The Rouge et Or averaged 74.2 points per game in the regular season while allowing opponents to score 53.8; the team also shot 45% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc, averaging 40 rebounds per game.

Ryerson, comparatively, averaged 73.0 points per game while allowing 57.1, yielding similar numbers to their quarter-final opponent. The Rams shot 40.6% from the field and 31.5% from beyond the arc this year, collecting an average of 44.3 boards through the regular season.

Laval holds an edge over Ryerson in the wins column; the Rouge et Or suffered just one loss on the year coming in the form of a one-point competition against the McGill Martlets in their last game of the regular season. Ryerson, in comparison, owns a 17-6 record across 24 regular season contests.

Home to some of the best offensive talent in the country, Laval boasts a dynamic lineup capable of attacking on all fronts. 2019 RSEQ most valuable player Sarah-Jane Marois (Quebec City, Que.) averaged 15.4 points per game in the regular season while shooting a league-best 44.4 percent from the beyond the arc. Second-year sharpshooter Carrie-Ann Auger (Trois-Rivieres, Que.) clocks in with similar numbers, going 42.9 percent from three across nine regular-season games. Jane Gagne (Quebec, Que.) boasts the second-best field goal percentage in the country, shooting 58.6 percent from the floor this season.

Marois, Auger, and Gagne will match up well against Ryerson’s deep forward group. Headlining the Rams’ defensive efforts will be second-year forward Jama Bin-Edward (Waterloo, Ont.), while Paska will be looked upon to control play within the paint. The Rams will need to capitalize on their opportunities from beyond the arc if they want to keep pace with Laval, as every extra point holds great value at this point in the season.

A win against Laval sees the Rams advance to the national semifinal and guarantees the team an opportunity to compete for a medal on home court. Ryerson will face one of the Ottawa Gee-Gees or the Regina Cougars in their next game, whether that be in the semifinal on Saturday or the consolation semifinal on Friday.

The last time a No. 8 seed knocked off a No. 1 seed in the Final 8 was back in 2012 so the Rams will be looking to join the club of upset winners.

Looking ahead, only one thing is certain: the Rams will leave it all on the court, exerting a total and complete effort in hopes of taking down the best team in the country.

Tickets for Thursday’s quarter-final game can be purchased here.

The first 500 Ryerson students through the doors will receive a free t-shirt. Students will receive free admission to the game with a valid OneCard. Be sure to arrive early, as doors open at 5:00 p.m.

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