Written by Jose Colorado for On Point Basketball
It took a couple of haymakers to wake up the Ryerson Rams but once alert, they wouldn’t be denied.
Ammanuel Diressa led the Rams with 18 points and Adika Peter-McNeilly recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds as Ryerson squeezed by a pesky McGill Redmen squad 69-66 in CIS exhibition play Sunday afternoon at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
A second quarter scuffle that initially began with Rams’ star player, Aaron Best, wrestling for a loose ball resulted in a four-player ejection as the altercation quickly escalated into pushing and even punches being thrown. Ryerson’s Filip Vujadinovic threw a pair of jabs in clear view of the officials and was immediately tossed from the game along with his teammate, Best, and McGill’s Tychon Carter-Newman and Sebastian Beckett.
The heated exchange was exactly what the Rams needed following a sluggish start.
“I think our run was for them,” said Adam Voll, the starting power forward. “They were putting their bodies on the line for us, getting in there and literally fighting for us so that gave us a lot of energy.”
The Rams did indeed rally off eight unanswered points and outscored McGill 22 – 6 in the frame, providing a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.
“I took that personally,” said Derrick Allahyarian, following the game. “That’s two of my teammates that they took out of the game. So I just played as hard as I could on defence and I’m sure everybody else took the same attitude.
Adika Peter-McNeilly (#21) goes up for the basket as Jawara Pedican (#5) looks on
“We locked up.”
While Allahyarian played with grit and heart on defence, it was Diressa who shouldered the offensive burden in the absence of their marquee player, Best.
The Tennessee Tech transfer and Eastern Commerce alum figures to make a big impact for the Rams and on this night he did just that, hitting on a flurry of jumpers to keep the Rams’ offence afloat.
But as the game pressed on it was McGill, on the heels of a back-to-back, that grew stronger.
The Redmen punched back in the second half outscoring the Rams 36-26. Head Coach David DeAveiro went ‘big’ in the latter portions of the game, rotating a number of bodies into the fray and the results worked wonders. McGill out-rebounded their counterpart 62-45, putting the Rams in fourth quarter foul trouble.
The Montreal-based squad even had a shot to tie it at the buzzer but Jawara Pedican’s desperation attempt was tipped away by McNeilly to secure the Rams’ win.
Francois Bourque led the way for the Redmen with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds while Jenning Leung chipped in with 11.
All things considered, the McGill comeback didn’t seem like a cause for concern according to the fourth year veteran, Allahyarian.
“(Our coach) was talking about (putting together a full 40 minutes) all game,” the guard said. “He just said keep going and going but that comes with us getting into shape and being conditioned.
“We closed it out and we were resilient so we pulled it out in the end.”
The game marked the first CIS win for new head coach, Patrick Tatham, who takes over the reins from Roy Rana who’s taking a sabbatical year after a six-year stint on the sidelines for the National bronze medalists.
Ryerson is now 2-0 in exhibition play (beat Humber College of the OCAA) while McGill falls to 2-1.
Photo courtesy of Andrea Vacl of the Ryersonian
Edited by Drew Ebanks