By: Stan Temming
TORONTO - The No. 3 Ryerson Rams men's basketball team returns to the Wilson Cup final for the first time since the 2011-12 season following a dominant 96-77 victory over the Windsor Lancers. The Rams will return to Coca-Cola Court inside the Mattamy Athletic Centre tomorrow night to take on the No. 1 Carleton Ravens in the OUA Gold Medal match.
Playing in front of a rowdy, capacity crowd, both sides found their shooting stroke early. Three perfect shots by Ryerson's Ammanuel Diressa from beyond the arc in the opening quarter gave his squad a 21-17 edge after ten minutes of action.
The offense was kicked up a notch in the second quarter where the Lancers and Rams combined for 53 points. Ryerson's ability to drive towards the rim on offense and limit the damage of Windsor's Alex Campbell and Mike Rocca was the key as they took a 49-42 lead into the halftime break.
In the third, JV Mukama came off the bench and got red-hot from three point land to help the Rams pull away. He finished the night a perfect five-for-five from beyond the arc and 7-for-8 from the floor.
"His ability to shoot the basketball at six-seven, six-eight (feet tall) is unheard of," said Ryerson's head coach Patrick Tatham following the game. "He's a secret weapon for us and he just came with it today."
Down 74-55 going into the final ten minutes, the Lancers battled hard to try to get themselves back into the game but didn't receive the bounces they needed.
The Rams finished 44.9% from the floor, including 12-for-26 from distance, compared to 33.3% and 14-for-37 for Windsor.
While both teams shot the ball well, the Porter Airlines Player of the Game was presented to Ryerson's Kadeem Green for his tenacious defensive effort. The fifth-year had five of the game's seven total blocks, most coming in highlight reel fashion. He also added 12 points and a dozen rebounds for the double-double.
"Any time that our guards were trying to play straight up 'D' and (Windsor) would get to the rim, we trusted that Kadeem was going to be there to make that finish hard for any opposing player," said teammate Aaron Best. "Kadeem played a big role in our defensive effort tonight and he was the anchor for our defense."
Mukama finished with a game-high 23 points for the Rams while Best also picked up a double-double with an 18 point, 11 rebound performance.
Isiah Osborne, the OUA's Rookie of the Year, led the way offensively for the Lancers with 21 points. Campbell was the third player to join the 'double-double club' with 15 points and 13 rebounds while Rocca dropped 18 points.
The loss moves Windsor into the bronze medal game against the No. 2 Ottawa Gee-Gees tomorrow evening. The Gee-Gees fell 82-74 to Carleton in the other semifinal Saturday evening. Tip off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
The Rams' victory clinches a berth at the CIS Championships at the University of British Columbia next weekend. With the chance to win the first OUA Championship in Ryerson Athletics history against the Ravens, they're not looking too far ahead just yet though.
"We've played one game against Carleton this year," said Tatham. "We beat them pretty badly (here) at home so I know there's some sort of revenge in their blood ready for us tomorrow.
"We want to make history and we gotta go in tomorrow… with the same defensive intensity, the same mindset and try to do something big for our school," added Best.