TORONTO- Fifth-year veteran Ashley MacDonald stunned the CIS No. 9-ranked Toronto Varsity Blues at Kerr Hall Gym on Friday night, nailing a long three-pointer with five seconds left in regulation to lift the Ryerson Rams women's basketball team to a 66- 65 victory over their downtown rivals.
With just over five seconds remaining on the clock and the Rams down by two, MacDonald freed up some space for herself in the top right corner outside the three-point line, and brought the home crowd to its feet with her only three-pointer of the contest.
"We defended, they didn't get too many open looks," said Head Coach Charles Kissi. "They are a great shooting team. (But) the difference was we didn't quit. We never let U of T get too far ahead and gave ourselves a chance."
The victory brings the Rams (9-9) up to the .500 mark, while the Blues fall to 12-6 on the year.
Gechkova netted the first four points of the contest on back-to-back possessions, and helped the Rams to an early 7-4 lead in the opening quarter. A three-pointer from Jill Stratton evened the quarter at 11-11.
The Blues went on a 10-2 run, with Liane Bailey draining another bucket from beyond the arc. Angela Tilk answered with four-straight points, and Ryerson was down 20-19 at the end of the first.
The Rams went up by a couple midway through the second on a lay-up by Annie Sokoloff (North Vancouver, B.C.). The game would stay tied at 25-25 up to the seven-minute mark as both teams dried up offensively for a 3-minute span.
The teams were able to find their shooting late in the half, and Tilk (Welland, Ont.) got into foul trouble, picking up three personals through the first 20 minutes.
Gechkova (Sofia, Bulgaria) drained a first-half high of 10 points for the Rams while Stoncius and Stratton also tallied 10 apiece for the Blues. Both squads were shooting over 40% from the floor going into the third quarter.
Neither side was able to gain momentum throughout the third. The lead was traded on a number of occasions, but the visitors held a slight 50-49 advantage heading into the final period. Tilk was limited because of her fouls, taking nine points and seven boards into the fourth. However, she also picked up her fourth personal late in the third period, forcing her to be much more passive for the rest of the contest.
Rachael Sider extended the Blues lead early on, and after Toronto took a four-point lead, Alexandrea Tkaczyk (Cambridge, Ont.) fouled out of the contest. Sherri Pierce spread the lead to six soon after, and Kissi called a timeout to talk things over at the 4-minute mark.
Gechkova and MacDonald (Port Colborne, Ont.) helped Ryerson slice into the lead, but a big play by Stoncius helped break the momentum. She picked up the bucket and also forced a fifth foul from Tilk, taking her out of the contest at 3:29.
Stoncius drained another crucial shot to maintain the Blues lead, but two made free- throws from MacDonald kept the Rams within four. Wright picked up a rebound and a bucket to cut the lead in half, but Pierce was equal to the task at the other end of the floor, making both her foul shots to keep Toronto ahead.
Gechkova was put on the line after grabbing a defensive rebound off a missed Blues shot, and pulled Ryerson with two once again with 38.6 seconds on the clock. MacDonald would follow that with her final moment heroics to give her team a win over the downtown rivals.
"(Ashley) was freaking out a little bit when she didn't make some shots early," said Kissi. "She's the number one scorer in the OUA, (so I said) ‘you have to keep going and not get frustrated.' I knew (her shot) was going in. She's a fifth-year kid and knows how to make plays."
The Rams will take on York and Laurentian next Friday and Saturday at Kerr Hall Gym in their final home games of the season. Ryerson will hit the road after that, heading east on February 17 and 18 to hit the court against Ottawa and Carleton for their last conference games before the post-season.