TORONTO—The OUA season kicked off Wednesday with an epic crosstown battle at the Mattamy Athletic Centre that came down to the final play, with Ryerson’s Juwon Grannum (4th-year, Mississauga, Ont.) finishing a fast-break layup with nine seconds left to put the Rams up 85-84 over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
“Coach said ‘get two guys on the ball. Be very active.’ JP [Kambola] beside me, he got the deflection, ball came to Roshe and I just ran,” said Grannum, who also scored the Rams next-to-last basket off an offensive rebound. “I knew if I got the ball I had to finish it.”
After ending the Varsity Blues previous scoring drive with an interception off an inbound, new Ram Roshane Roberts (2nd-year, Vaughan, Ont.) matched it with another steal to seal the victory.
Ryerson’s Adika Peter-McNeilly with the rock
With most analysts picking them to once again run away with the OUA East division, the Rams looked sluggish at times, allowing U of T to get back into the game — getting blown out 27-11 in the third quarter — after leading by as much as 15.
After missing five three-pointers in the first half, Devon Williams (1st-year, Sharon, Mass.) hit 7 of 10 from beyond the arc to lead the surge.
“We shot the ball very badly in the third quarter and they got really hot … We protected the paint but they just made a lot of threes,” said Rams interim head coach Patrick Tatham.
U of T’s Sage Usher(12pts 6 rebs) surveys the Rams defence.
Tatham attributed the comeback to the resilience of veterans like Jean-Victor Mukama ( 3rd year, Hamilton, On) and Adika Peter-McNeilly (4th-year, Scarborough, Ont.), who led the team in points (25), assists (6) and rebounds (8).
“Adika and J.V. answered the bell. They really [did.] I think that’s [continued] momentum from nationals. Our goal this year is to protect home court, and that’s what we did tonight.”
The #5 nationally-ranked Rams were without captain Aaron Best (5th-year, Scarborough, Ont.) and third-year forward Adam Voll (Kitchener, Ont.), and often the pieces didn’t seem to gel, a point stressed by Mukama , who fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“One thing we need to fix — especially after losing our strong core of veterans in Jahmal [Jones], Bjorn [Michaelsen] and Jordon [Gauthier] — is the chemistry. We have a lot of new guys, a lot of young guys, said Mukama. “I feel like we played a bad game, but I’ll give them credit – they played great – but right now the chemistry needs to get back together. Next time we come back home, it’ll be a better win.”
The rematch —the second leg of the BIA Cup, awarded to the aggregate winner of the annual downtown series — is set for Nov. 28 at the Goldring Centre
Ryerson’s JP Kambola(opts, 6rebs) signals the three
Up next, Ryerson will head to Hamilton Nov. 11 to take on the #8-ranked McMaster Marauders, while U of T will host the Waterloo Warriors.
Edited by Drew Ebanks
Photos by Charles Vanegas