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Rams head back to OUA final, national tournament

By Andrea Elliott
OTTAWA - The Ryerson Rams men's basketball team is headed back to the OUA Wilson Cup championship final and to the U SPORTS national championship following a riveting 76-75 semifinal victory over the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Friday night.


Plagued by foul trouble early in the game, Ryerson all-stars Ammanuel Diressa and Adika Peter-McNeilly were forced to watch much of the first half from the bench, but they came up clutch when they were needed most.

Diressa had just three first half points but took over in the fourth quarter, leading the Rams from down six with 3:45 remaining. The fourth year guard finished with 20 points. 

Peter-McNeilly netted just seven points but his most important statistic came on the game's final play. With the Rams leading 76-75, Ottawa's Brandon Robinson came charging down the floor looking to win it for the Gee-Gees. Peter-McNeilly stood tall, however, and blocked the attempt before seeing the clock expire and his teammates flood the court in celebration.

The teams traded the lead 16 times throughout the contest and added in seven ties before the Rams emerged victorious.

With Diressa and Peter-McNeilly on the bench for much of the first half, the Rams relied on fifth year forward Juwon Grannum to carry the load. Grannum delivered, scoring 13 points in the opening half to lead all scorers. Playing in his first OUA semifinal, freshman Keevon Small filled in admirably off the bench, netting 10 first half points.

The Rams trailed 18-15 after the opening ten minutes and fell behind by as many as nine at 32-23 in the second quarter. A Ryerson timeout with 5:10 remaining in the frame sparked the defending champs as the Rams closed the quarter on a 12-2 run to hold a slim 35-34 advantage at halftime.

Seven lead changes in the third quarter alone set the stage for the dramatic finish, but it was Ottawa who led 58-53 heading into the final frame.

After a three pointer from Ottawa's Caleb Agada gave the Gee-Gees a 72-66 lead with 3:45 remaining, the Rams answered with some big buckets from Small and Diressa.

Diressa finished a nice spin move in the lane with 1:10 remaining to give Ryerson a 74-73 lead but Ottawa's Agada proceeded to hit two free throws to hand the lead back to the Gee-Gees. Then, Grannum etched his name into the "game winner" position when he nailed a baseline jumper with 40 seconds remaining.

Having used his length to his advantage all night long, Small forced an Ottawa turnover with 25 seconds remaining and the Rams killed the majority of the clock. Following a missed jumper, Ottawa's Robinson made the last ditch effort for the game-winner but was denied by Peter-McNeilly.

Diressa led the Rams with 20 points while Small finished with 18 points and six steals. Grannum added 15 points and six rebounds.

Ottawa's Caleb Agada had a game-high 24 points in the loss.

The Rams will take on the Carleton Ravens on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Wilson Cup final, a rematch of last year's championship game that Ryerson won 73-68 on home court.



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