VANCOUVER — Ryerson never makes it easy on themselves, until they make a run that looks easy.
Our real-time recap from The Mitch, where Ryerson overcame the last of a late seven-point deficit to put away inspired host UBC 109-101 in front of 4,900 fans. Jean-Victor Mukama hit a tying triple with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter to mute the Vancouver crowd, then the No. 1-seeded Rams took hold of the overtime thanks after settling in due to some strong work from Kadeem Green.
If Ryerson goes on to win the tournament, this gets elevated to instant classic. The Rams needed 41 minutes to get their first lead, astoundingly, but eventually woke up on a night where they played until after 1 a.m. ET.
So that makes for Calgary-Ryerson and Dalhousie-Carleton on Saturday. Some game notes:
Story of the first three quarters: all-Canadian stars adapting, one better than the other, after sitting. David Wagner scored 15 in the third quarter after barely playing in the first half. Ryerson fifth-year guard Aaron Best was in the same jam, then didn't get a shot after the break until a breakaway dunk in the first minute of the fourth. Yet the Rams, who were down seven with 2:17 left, are back in it, with Mukama making some wow-factor plays that included a dunk.
Impact for/on the Rams — Slow-starting, as usual, and Patrick Tatham opted to sit Best after the fifth-year star's second foul with 3:58 left in the first quarter.
In the second the half, Ryerson ran mostly through point guard Manny Diressa and wing Adika Peter-McNeilly. It was bumpy for them all night, and their interior defence often leaked oil three lanes wide. The T-Birds shot an effective 65 per cent in the first half.
Two Adika Peter-McNeilly triples helped get the deficit from 15 to nine in the first half, before UBC coach Kevin Hanson took a timeout. The Rams are still coming, though. Like Costanza's shower, it didn't take.
Talking (to myself, mostly) point from this one. Ryerson seems to like a couple shots across the bow to get going. They surmounted a 13-point margin in the OUA Wilson Cup against Carleton, and overcame an Ottawa lead on Jan. 22 when they defeated a No. 1-ranked team for the first time in team history.
Those were home games. Many have wondered how Ryerson would fare out on the West Coast. Of course, sometimes it seems all that can stop the Rams, is the Rams.
Impact for/on the Thunderbirds — The 'Birds took the fight a little more to Ryerson rather than get triple-happy after an outlying 6-of-9 in the first 20 minutes. Jordan Jensen-Whyte has a big dunk, is creating, and UBC's interior passing is creating slivers of space. David Wagner, limited to four fouls-restricted minutes in the first half, has been muscling inside and had 15 third-quarter points.
German guard Phil Jalalpoor felt it early with 15 points (75% eFG). The 'Birds had a cluster of midrange twos and threes during the first quarter, quarter and half until regression kicked in. Another Jordan Jensen-Whyte triple kept them out front.
Entertainment value: A+