After a back-and-forth first half, the Ryerson Rams pulled away to defeat the Dalhousie Tigers 84-66 in the bronze medal game of the U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8 tournament.
“I am incredibly appreciative of this group and the season that they have had. We played with a tremendous amount of pride and passion,” said Ryerson had coach Roy Rana.
“Winning a medal (at nationals) is always special. It may not be the colour that we wanted, but we will keep striving (for gold).”
In a low-scoring first quarter – both teams shot less than 30 per cent from the field – they were deadlocked 14-14.
Alex Carson led the Tigers with five points, including a three-pointer, while big man Tanor Ngom paced the Rams with six, including four-for-four from the foul line.
Early in the second quarter, on a Keevan Veinot shot from downtown, the Tigers led 23-19, before the Rams answered and took the edge.
Midway through the stanza, after an old-fashioned three-point play from Jordan Wilson, Dalhousie regained a one-point advantage at 28-27.
With a 13-4 run, which included a base line drive and hoop from Filip Vujadinovic – who finished with 10 points in the half – the Rams took a 40-32 lead to the locker room.
“We played together, with a tremendous amount of energy,” said Rana.
By the midway point of the third quarter, on a soaring lay-up by Keevon Small off a base line in-bounds play, the Rams took their largest lead at 45-34.
Trailing by 13, Carson drained a three-pointer for the Tigers, but Jayden Frederick replied for the Rams to restore their scoring edge, at 53-40.
Despite a dunk from Sascha Kappos for the Tigers, off an alley-oop, the Rams finished the third quarter on a 12-4 surge, which included a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Small.
Ryerson led 62-44 heading into the fourth quarter.
With the first five points of the final 10 minutes, including a three-pointer from Vujadinovic, the Rams’ lead ballooned to 67-44.
The Tigers made a mini-run, which included a three-pointer from Veinot, but the Rams responded by taking their largest lead of the afternoon, on a Nathan Culbreath shot from beyond the arc, at 75-49.
With his second three-pointer of the quarter, Kappos cut the Rams lead to 77-60, with just more than three minutes remaining in the game.
The Rams outscored the Tigers 44-34 in the second half.
Vujadinovic and Kappos garnered Player of the Game nods for their respective teams.
“It is a surreal moment and so great to go out with a win,” said Vujadinovic of his final U SPORTS game.
In his five seasons with the Rams, the veteran captured five national medals.
The 6-foot-7 forward led the Rams with 17 points, while Small and Myles Charvis, also reached double figures with 16 and 12, respectively.
For the Tigers, Kappos scored 15, while Carson (13) and Veinot (11) also scored in double digits.
“It is tough – you only get so many opportunities (to win a medal),” said Dalhousie head coach Rick Plato.“We played as hard as we could, but I think we ran out of gas, which is no excuse.
“We had a very successful year, and faced a lot of adversity, I am so proud of this team,” he added.
The top-ranked Carleton Ravens and defending national champion Calgary Dinos will tip off in the U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8 gold medal game Sunday, at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT, on Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet Now and TVA Sports.
Players of the Game
- Ryerson: Filip Vujadinovic
- Dalhousie: Sascha Kappos