VANCOUVER (CIS) – The host UBC Thunderbirds gave the top-seeded Ryerson Rams everything they could handle and then some on Thursday night, but the reigning OUA Champions pulled off the come-from-behind 109-101 overtime win in national quarterfinals at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
The Rams hit another level in the overtime session, outscoring the 'Birds 19-11 to claim their place in the semifinals. A steal-turned-dunk from third-year guard Jean-Victor Mukama on the heels of a Roshane Roberts three gave the Rams a seven-point lead in the final frame, and they never looked back.
"I think what really happened is that the depth was the difference," said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. "I think they've got 10 or 11 guys who are solid, and a a bunch of those guys, I think, are NCAA D-1 caliber guys, and I think are guys got a little bit tired. I thought we played, I thought it was the best game of the year for us.
Their bench players may have won them the game, but Ryerson was led one of their stars, as First Team OUA All-Star Adika Peter-McNeilly was dominant, pouring in 25 points on 6-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-11 from distance, to go along with a game-high nine rebounds. Ammanuel Diressa and Mukama, named Ryersons's Player of the Game, each notching 19 points.
For the 'Birds, it was their veterans who were the standouts on Thursday night, with guard Jordan Jensen-Whyte leading the club with 25 points, four rebounds, and two assists, and fifth-year forward David Wagner picking up 22. Never trailing in regulation, the 'Birds controlled the play for much of the contest.
"The key thing was just to make sure that we left it all out on the floor and worked as hard as we could," said Jensen-Whyte, talking to media after the game. "I think we did that, and they played a good game. It's too bad we fell a little short."
The Thunderbirds seemed to thrive off the energy of the crowd in the early going, as they ripped off an 11-3 run to open the contest. The UBC defense, which has been the calling card of the squad all season, held the explosive Rams attack to just 18 points in the first quarter, none of which came off the hands of Second-Team All-Canadian Aaron Best or Peter-McNeilly.
UBC's attack in the opening 10 minutes was led by Phil Jalalpoor, as the guard knocked down three-of-four from distance en route to 11 points in the frame. Behind the German import's sharpshooting, the 'Birds took a 27-18 lead into the first intermission.
The second stanza saw the 'Birds stretch their lead to 15 before the Rams flipped a switch and flashed the offense that had them ranked third in the country with an average of 89.6 points-per-game coming into the tournament. Peter-McNeilly caught fire midway through the frame hitting two triples and three free throws and serving as the engine of 20-5 Ryerson run that saw the reigning OUA champs tie the game at 40-40.
The hosts recovered in the dying stages of the frame, and by the time the buzzer sounded, they had restored a four-point advantage, leading 47-43.
After an 11-ppoint first half, Jensen-Whyte continued to make his mark eatly in the third quarter, delivering a thunderous two-handed slam that was part of a 9-0 run for the Canada West Bronze medalists.
On the back of a 15-point third quarter from Wagner, one in which the Rams could not stop him in the paint, the 'Birds opened up a 76-62 with just 49 ticks left in the frame. Ryerson made sure that UBC wasn't going to run away with the game, as they reeled off a 6-0 run of their own to end the third, including another three from Peter-McNally.
The Rams continued to close on the 'Birds in the final frame, and finally squared it up 90-90, the final push coming on a three-point dagger from third-year Mukama with just 29 seconds remaining.
Ryerson head coach Patrick Tatham was impressed by the moxie shown by his players, both to comeback, and to take the game over in its final minutes.
"The guys are completely tenacious and resilient," said Tatham. "They held their composure – at the very last second JV, MVP of the game, gets a three by chance, and we just pull it out, really."
UBC 26-21-29-14-11: 101
RYE 18-25-25-22-19: 109
Points: Jordan Jensen-Whyte (25), David Wagner (22), Philip Jalalpoor (17)
Rebounds: Philip Jalalpoor (5)
Assists: Philip Jalalpoor (7)
Player of the game: Jordan Jensen-Whyte
Points: Adika Peter-McNeilly (25), Jean-Victor Mukama (19), Ammanuel Dressa (19)
Rebounds: Adika Peter-McNeilly (9),
Assists: Ammanuel Dressa (4)
Player of the game: Jean-Victor Mukama
SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times PACIFIC)
Thursday, March 17
13:00 Quarter-final 1: Carleton 91, Thompson Rivers 75
15:00 Quarter-final 2: Dalhousie 87, Ottawa 83
18:00 Quarter-final 3: Calgary 72, McGill 69
20:00 Quarter-final 4: Ryerson 109, UBC 101
Friday, March 18
17:00 Consolation 1: Thompson Rivers vs. Ottawa www.CIS-SIC.tv)
19:00 Consolation 2: McGill vs. UBC (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
Saturday, March 19
12:00 5th-place game (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
15:00 Semifinal 1: Carleton vs. Dalhousie (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *
17:30 Semifinal 2: Calgary vs. Ryerson (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *
Sunday, March 20
14:00 Bronze (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
17:30 Final (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *
* Webcast of the semifinals & final are on pay-per-view basis.