Top-ranked Rams survive scare, beat UBC
VANCOUVER – Just when it looked like they were lost, the top-ranked Ryerson Rams found their way.
Guard Jean-Victor Mukama tied the game with a three-point shot with just 28 seconds remaining, then the Rams overpowered the UBC Thunderbirds in overtime for a 109-101 victory Thursday night at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s basketball tournament.
Even the Rams players couldn’t explain how they managed to avoid an embarrassing loss to the No. 8-ranked Thunderbirds on the opening day of the eight-team tournament.
“It was crazy,” said guard Adika Peter-McNeilly, who scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds. “We just found a way to do. I don’t know how we did it.
“We took each possession one at a time, took some crucial shots, made some crucial defensive plays.”
The Thunderbirds had a chance to win in regulation when Thunderbird guard Jordan Jensen-Whyte let the clock tick down to under 10 seconds, but he missed his shot.
The underdog Thunderbirds never trailed during the game but looked to run out of steam in the overtime where they were outscored 19-11.
“I think our guys got a little bit tired,” said coach Kevin Hanson. “For us I believe it was the best game of the year for us.
“It was an epic-style game, a terrific game for fans. You’re not going to win many national championships giving up 109 points.”
In an earlier upset, the Dalhousie Tigers defeated the third-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees 87-83.
In other games, the defending champion Carleton Ravens advanced to the semifinals with a 91-75 victory over Thompson Rivers Wolfpack while the Calgary Dinos needed a steal by guard Thomas Cooper in the dying seconds of the game to defeat the McGill Redmen 72-69.
A loud home-town crowd at the UBC Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre roared as the Thunderbirds raced into an early 11-3 advantage and led 47-43 at half time.
Ryerson coach Patrick Tatham said his player never stopped believing.
“The guys are completely tenacious and resilient,” he said. “They had the composure at the very last. We just pulled it out.”
Mukama, a child and youth care student from Hamilton, finished the game with 19 points and seven rounds.
Jensen-Whyte, a six-foot-six guard from Vancouver, led UBC with 25 points.
Ryerson will face Calgary in Saturday’s other semifinal.
Calgary 72 McGill 69
Calgary coach Dan Vanhooren said praying for a miracle wasn’t the strategy he planned against the Redmen.
Cooper was fouled after making his steal, then calmly sank both free throws to give the No. 4-ranked Dinos the win.
“You stand there as a coach (and) hope really isn’t a strategy but really you have nothing left,” said Calgary coach Dan Vanhooren. “You are hoping your kids are going to make a play.
“I have to give it to Thomas for getting a piece of that.”
Mistakes proved costly for the No. 5-ranked Redmen against Calgary.
Montreal was leading 69-68 with just 33 seconds remaining, but guard Tychon Carter-Newman was called for travelling. Guard Jhony Verrone was fouled when Calgary got the ball, and he hit both free throws to give the Dinos a 70-69 lead.
Montreal coach David DeVeiro was frustrated his team couldn’t execute and gave up 23 points on turnovers.
“I am extremely disappointed the way we finished the game,” said DeVeiro. “To turn it over two times . . . is extremely disappointing.
“I thought we defended. We played extremely hard. I thought as well as they played, I’m disappointed we put them in a good position to win.”
Cooper, a six-foot-five arts student from Chattanooga, Tenn., led all players with 21 points.
Carleton 91 Thompson Rivers 75
The No. 2-ranked Ravens broke open a close game with 26 fourth-quarter points.
Ryan Ejim, a six-foot-seven forward from Toronto led all scorers with 26 points, hitting 11-of-14 from the field and made four-of-six free throws for the Ravens, who are looking for their sixth straight CIS title and 12th in the last 14 years.
Gerard Gore, a six-foot-five forward from St. John’s, scored 22 points for the No. 7 Wolfpack. He hit 9-of-12 shots from the field and converted 4-of-7 free throw attempts.
Dalhousie 87 Ottawa 83
Guard Ritchie Kanza Mata led the No. 6 Tigers with 24 points. Kashrell Lawrence, a forward from Brampton, Ont., added 14 points for Dalhousie, while Jarred Reid scored 13 off the bench.
Matt Plunkett, a criminology student from Napanee, Ont., scored 17 points for Ottawa. Mike L’Africain, the six-foot-one guard from Oakville, Ont., added 16 points and seven assists a day after being named the CIS player of the year.