HALIFAX-Jordan Baker dropped 26 points while Daniel Ferguson picked up a game-high six baskets from beyond the arc, and the No. 2 seed Alberta Golden Bears defeated the No. 7 Ryerson Rams 81-52 in the third championship quarter-final of the day at the CIS Final 8.
The Canada West title-holders won the battle of the boards, pulling down 50 compared to 28 from the Rams, and shot just under 50% from the floor. Jahmal Jones led Ryerson with 15 points and four assists, while Bjorn Michaelsen was a work-horse for the men, tallying 11 points and six rebounds.
"They came out and played well and we played scared," said Head Coach Roy Rana. "We were nervous, tentative and tight. Our youth showed itself for the first time in a (while)."
The injury bug bit once again late in the Rams season, as team-leading point-getter Jordon Gauthier was injured at last weekend ‘s OUA championship and was unable to stay in the game for any extended periods, playing just nine minutes.
"We knew (Jordon) was going to be a game-time decision," said Rana. "We're not really deep to begin with so losing him is tough."
Baker opened the contest with two three-pointers and a lay-up as the Golden Bears jumped out to a 10-4 lead early in the quarter. After Jones (Mississauga) hit the Rams first attempt of the match, the men missed their next seven shots, and Rana quickly called timeout to rally his team as they faced a 10-point deficit.
Gauthier (Windsor, Ont.) tallied a three, and Jones followed that with two more points to bring the lead down to eight. However, Baker notched 12 points in the first period alone, and the Golden Bears were up 21-12 heading into the second.
Michaelsen (Otterburn Park, Que.) and Jones each picked up a pair of buckets to try and stem the Alberta tide, but after another penetration by Baker resulted in two more points and the Rams faced a 15-point climb at the 6:08 mark of the second.
The Golden Bears continued to spread the lead before halftime, as Ferguson drained a couple of long threes. Some good free-throw shooting by big men Michaelsen and Luke Staniscia (Pefferlaw, Ont.) helped Ryerson continue to get points, but another long-range jumper from what seemed to be near half-court by Ferguson put Alberta up by 24 after two quarters.
The towers of Ferguson and Baker combined for 41 of Alberta's 49 points after the first 20 minutes. The Golden Bears were deadly from the perimeter, draining 8-of-12 shots from beyond the arc. Jones finished with 10 points to lead Ryerson's scoring at the half.
Best dropped two three's as the Rams jumped on Alberta to start the second, going on an 8-0 run to take a chunk out of the lead. A basket from beyond the arc by Staniscia made it 11 straight before the Golden Bears got on the board. Michaelsen also picked up multiple points in the post throughout the quarter.
However, Alberta found their footing before the men could bring the lead down to single-digits and by the end of the period they built their lead back to 20-plus heading into the final stanza, and would cruise through the fourth to the semifinals, where they will play St. FX.
"We've got nothing to be ashamed of," stated Rana. "We're going to try and play a good game tomorrow to go out on the right note. I'm proud of these guys. We're the youngest team here. (It's) not bad to have growing pains in March at a national championship."
The Rams move into the consolation round, and will play at 2:15 p.m. local (1:15 p.m. EST) on Saturday against the No. 3 seed Concordia Stingers, who were upset by St. FX. The game will be available live on SSN Canada.