Rock solid Rams down defending champion Lancers to advance to Critelli Cup Final

Rock solid Rams down defending champion Lancers to advance to Critelli Cup Final

It was a consistent, near dominant performance from start to finish for the Ryerson Rams who eliminated the Windsor Lancers with a 79-62 victory, advancing them to the Critelli Cup Final against the host Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Rams banked on hot shooting and spreading the floor to score at a pace that the Lancers just couldn't keep up with.

"We definitely hit some timely shots but I think they were the right shots, they were good shots," reflected Ryerson head coach, Carly Clarke. "(Our players) were in rhythm so I had a lot of confidence in us shooting those shots. Some of those shots came from hustle plays where we went and got a loose ball, saved it out of bounds, gave ourselves an extra possession. We felt that was a pivotal thing in this game. Windsor's an incredible rebounding team. We had to win some loose balls and rebounds to get the win."

Ryerson was hot early hitting six of their first eight shots with the offence working through Silvana Jez and Mariah Nunes. That continued all night with Jez finishing with a team-high 20 points and Porter Airlines Player of the Game honours. 

"We're a very strong offensive team so we're very versatile and we're able to score from anywhere on the court. We were able to do that," said Jez. "But honestly I think what helped us win today was our defence."

 Jez was all over the court including the defensive end where she battled the Lancer guards, pressing them into mistakes and poor shooting. She also grabbed nine rebounds in the process. Mariah Nunes poured in 18 points while OUA player of the year, Keneca Pingue-Giles opened up the court for her teammates with 14 assists.

"We were able to stay focused from quarter to quarter. We didn't let up or let them close the gap. As long as we keep our defensive side, I think we can win an OUA banner," added Jez. 

Ryerson put themselves in high percentage situations throughout the first half which was reflected in their shooting - 57 per cent in the first half and just under 50 per cent for the game.

The second quarter was the only time Windsor would not let Ryerson extend to a comfortable lead. They stayed in it by hitting their free throws and working the ball into the paint. But a 17-6 run by the Rams in the latter half of the second quarter gave them the separating they desired. They led 41 - 30 at halftime.

The Rams kept rolling in the second half, opening on a 6-0 run to extend their lad to 17 points, while Windsor racked up the fouls. It took the Lancers more than five minutes to get on the board in the half.

To that point, the game was played all inside the arc with a combined 1-for-14 shooting from three-point land in the first three quarters and 40 points in the paint for each team in the game. By the fourth quarter, the Rams had worn the Lancers down inside, built their confidence, and started dropping bombs from the perimeter. The Rams hit five of seven threes in the fourth quarter to dispel any hope of a Windsor comeback. 

"I don't think we were really in it from the beginning to be honest," said Windsor Lancers head coach, Chantal Vallée. "It seemed like Ryerson came in and they made their shots early from the high post. They were very aggressive." 

Third year forward and OUA First Team All-Star Emily Prevost paced the Lancers with a game-high 22 points inside while her towering fellow post Cheyanne Roger, an OUA First Team All-Star, put up 16 in defeat.

"I don't think it was nerves. But we are very young. We have one fourth year player, eight first year players, one second and one third," said Vallée. "We're very happy to be in the final four. What a great experience. We did outstanding work with our program this year. I'm very proud of our players. For Ryerson, the pressure was on them, they rose to it. They were the better team. They played extremely well. It didn't work out for us today. 

Waiting for the Rams in Saturday's final is the top seed and host Ottawa Gee-Gees. Ottawa will look to feed off the crowd after a strong second half against McMaster allowed them to escape with a 56 42 victory. But they will have to contain the explosive Rams offence