Photo by Alex D'Addese

Rams best Lions to make it out of round one

By Ryan Bacic

TORONTO – The Ryerson Rams will continue their run towards the Critelli Cup as they overcame a surging York Lions squad 66-61 in the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Wednesday night.

Unlike in previous years, the Lions have proven to be a thorn in the Rams side, having beaten them twice in the regular season enroot to this first round rematch.

“They added an MVP-candidate in Lindsay Shotbolt,” stated head coach Carly Clarke on what's set this year's York Lions apart. “I think she has been one of, if not the best, players in the conference all season.  Their coach also did a tremendous job with her team this season in bringing their younger players along, and we knew it was going to be a battle tonight.”

With the cross-town rivalry and enmity between the two teams fomented this year providing the backdrop, the match-up proved to be one that needed all forty minutes.  

Shrouded with the eccentric screams of excited fans, the first half can be described as two quarters split between dominance by either team.

Throughout the first quarter the Lions appeared to be firmly in control of the contest.  Implementing full-court defensive pressure from the get go, York’s penchant for fast-paced rotations in their zone formations shut down Ryerson passing lanes throughout much of the first ten minutes of play.

As a result of this, Ryerson’s offensive efficiency suffered as, at one point, the Rams were held to near 20% shooting.  

In contrast, it almost seemed as though the Lions were able to hit from almost anywhere on the court, as they shot nearly fifty-percent from the field, and close to seventy-percent from the three-point line.  

The Lions concluded the first quarter atop the scoreboard, as they led the Rams 16-10.

“The defence we were playing needed to be changed very quickly,” commented coach Clarke on what needed to be done to put a stop to the Lions scoring surge. “They execute their stuff really well, and they were getting the ball where they wanted, so we went quickly to mix it up which has had some success against them in the past.”

In the second quarter, however, the Rams began to completely turn the momentum of the contest around.  

Ryerson’s defensive efforts and offensive efficiency began to improve in tandem, as they forced the Lions to commit turnover after turnover, while simultaneously continuing to encroach upon the Lion’s ever decreasing lead.

Outscoring the Lions 21-13 throughout the second quarter, the Rams all of a sudden held a 31-29 lead heading into the second half.

Throughout the final two quarters the Rams would never again relinquish the lead that they had built as they continued to lock down York defensively.

While the Lions attempted to put a stop to the Rams new found momentum, their inability to convert offensively, as indicated by their falling field-goal percentage throughout the final two quarters, prevented them from gaining any kind of edge.

In the win, several Rams players made noticeable contributions to the home team’s victory.

Cara Tiemens (Newmarket, Ont.) made a noticeable veteran impact on the court, providing 11 points to go along with four steals, while providing a consistent leadership role on both ends of the court.

Additionally, fellow senior teammate Sofia Paska (Etobicoke, Ont.) made her presence known in the paint as she tallied an otherworldly 18 rebounds to go along with 14 points in yet another double-double performance.

However, the contribution provided by freshman Marin Scotten (Ottawa, Ont.) made a considerable impact on head coach Carly Clarke.  In her first ever playoff appearance in a Rams uniform, the guard led all scorers with 18 points to go along with four rebounds and two steals.  

“I think I told the girls, she balled out,” stated Clarke on Scotten’s performance this evening.  “I thought she was ready to go from the get go.  Statistically she made shots, she made plays, and she was all over the floor which impacted the game beyond the stat sheet.  She is normally a quiet person, but there is a major competitor inside of her.”

Next up, the Rams will prepare to take on the No. 1 Carleton Ravens at the Ravens' Nest on February 24.  

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