Contributed by: Satbir Singh (@SatbirSingh_)
St. Catharines, Ont. – Over the last few years, the Brock-Ryerson basketball matchup has gone from a run-of-the-mill regular season game to a full-blown rivalry played in a much bigger environment in front of larger crowds. It hasn’t just been about the teams stepping on the court, but the fan bases who have also turned up to create a friendly-hostile atmosphere not often seen around the OUA and U SPORTS.
In 2016-17, the Badgers hosted the Rams for their annual Meridian Centre game, which had an attendance of 3,018 fans – with Ryerson sending a bus full of student-fans to St. Catharines. Then last year, in response, Brock had student-fans head to Toronto to support their men’s and women’s teams at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
The rivalry spilt over into the OUA playoffs when the Badgers and Rams men’s teams met in the OUA semifinals a year ago. This game was played at Brock’s campus in the Bob Davis Gymnasium, but it still saw a section of the gym filled with fans of the visiting Rams.
With the rivalry having grown over the last two years, it was no surprise to see the Meridian Centre packed once again this past Saturday. The Badgers once again hosted the Rams at the St. Catharines downtown arena in front of almost 3,200 fans, which of course, included a student-section for the Rams.
“It’s excellent for the OUA to be able to put out something like this, for [student-athletes] to compete in a venue like this, its tremendous,” said Ryerson men’s basketball associate head coach Borko Popic. “It brings a different dynamic to the game because with the crowd noise, our ability to communicate and verbalize is a little different. It’s exciting; it tests our guys.”
The night ended with a Rams sweep of the Badgers, but not before an exciting ending between the two men’s squads.
With the Badgers jumping out to a 16-point halftime lead, the Rams were forced into a comeback situation.
“We were really moving the ball on offence. Finding the extra guy and guys were making shots,” said Brock head coach Madhav Trivedi. “We were really defending, and I think that’s what kept us in the game.”
The Rams began to chip away at the lead in the third quarter behind seniors Jean-Victor Mukama and Myles Charvis. The Badgers lead was only seven heading into the final 10 minutes.
“They came out with a lot of intensity and we were kind of on our heels in the first half,” said Popic. “They brought it to us and credit to them, but we made some adjustments at halftime and came out with a different intensity in the second half.”
A zone defence by the Rams would slow the Badgers offence down, while on the other end, the Badgers had no answer for the Rams’ hot shooting.
Mukama scored a game-high 21 points on route to the 71-62 victory, which improved the Rams to 7-0 on the season. Charvis scored 19 points and added seven rebounds and five assists.
The Badgers’ first quarter success was led by Johneil Simpson, who scored 14 of his team-high 19 in the first half. Cassidy Ryan, Tyler Brown, and Kascius Small-Martin would add 10 each, respectively, with Daniel Cayer chipping in with nine and grabbing 10 rebounds.
The Badgers and Rams have played some tightly-contested games over the last four years, with the St. Catharines squad having won five of the last eight – two consecutive for the Rams. Over those eight games, Brock has averaged 78.1 points, while Ryerson has maintained a mark of 77.6 points per contest.
In the women’s game, the Badgers held their own in a back-and-forth first quarter against the No. 2 ranked Rams; however, Ryerson proved too much for the Badgers from there out, winning the second and third quarter by a 47-20 margin. The final score was 81-55 in favour of the Rams.
Marin Scotten led the way with 17 points and five rebounds for the Rams. Her teammate, Rachel Farwell, showcased some sizzling shot-making from beyond the arc, where she scored all 12 of her points.
For Brock, Melissa Tatti collected 22 points (her fifth 20-point game this season). She also added five rebounds, five assists, and seven steals.
The night ended with the Rams’ section roaring in the Meridian Centre, but it showed positive signs to the future of OUA basketball. The Badgers and Rams have built a rivalry that has grown each year and shows the potential for even more matchups like this.
“I wish we could do [this] every game,” said Trivedi. “Having the fans right beside you and behind you that close is a great feeling. It’s a big arena, but you still have that intimate feel.”