HALIFAX (U SPORTS) – The No.1-seeded Ryerson Rams survived a scare from the No.8-seeded Saint Mary's Huskies on Thursday night in the opening round of the 2017 ArcelorMittal Dofasco U SPORTS Men's Final 8, holding on to win 79-70.
The Huskies went shot-for-shot with Ryerson, bringing the game to as close as one point with just over two minutes to play, before the Rams would seal the deal on the strength of six straight points from guard Adika Peter-McNeilly.
Guard Ammanual Diressa led the way offensively, with 24 points.
"There are no surprises at this level, at this stage and you just have to be prepared for everything, lots of crazy things happen, games are never clean. You play it and move on to the next one," said Rams head coach Roy Rana, when asked if he was surprised by the Huskies' competitiveness.
Saint Mary's countered with double-digit scoring from all five of their starters, led by guard Theon Reefer, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Forward Achuil Lual also finished with a double-double for the Huskies, who out-rebounded Ryerson 50-35 in the loss.
"I don't think there were nerves initially," said Huskies head coach Jonah Taussig. "But we just seemed to get off to a slow start, I mean they got up by 12 in the first quarter and I was super proud of the way the team fought over 40 minutes."
"I know a lot of people weren't giving us much of a chance, but no one in our locker room believed that and I didn't believe it. I thought we could beat these guys…A couple shots down the stretch in the fourth quarter just didn't fall for us and yeah, that could have been ours."
Ryerson would lead by as much as 12 in the second quarter, with a pair of players recording at least six points, including reserve forward Filip Vujadinovic who was strong in the paint.
The Huskies would battle back though, going on a 12-4 run to end the half. Lual made his presence felt inside with eight points as well as five rebounds as Saint Mary's entered the break down by just four.
Both teams found their stroke from the perimeter in the third quarter, each sinking three treys.
The Huskies got two from guard Kemar Alleyne, while three separate players cashed in for Ryerson, including a buzzer-beater from Peter-McNeilly, which gave the Rams a six-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
Lual and Alleyne brought the Huskies to within one with clutch three-pointers down the stretch, however Peter-McNeilly and Ryerson stayed composed and closed the game out in the final minute.
With the win, the Rams move on to play the winner of the Dalhousie and Alberta quarter-final in the semifinal on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. AT. Saint Mary's will play the loser of that game at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the consolation round.
RYE 18-21-20-20: 79
SMU 10-25-18-17: 70
Points: Ammanuel Diressa (24), Adika Peter-McNeilly (17)
Rebounds: Adika Peter-McNeilly (7), Ammanuel Diressa (7)
Assists: Myles Charvis (5)
Player of the game: Ammanuel Diressa
Points: Theon Reefer (17), Brian Rouse (15)
Rebounds: Achuil Lual (14)
Assists: Marquis Clayton (4)
Player of the game: Achuil Lual
Thursday, March 9
12:00 p.m. Quarter-final 1: No.2 Carleton 85 vs. No.7 Calgary 69 (TV1 webcast)
2 p.m. Quarter-final 2: No.3 McGill 63 vs. No.6 Manitoba 53 (TV1 webcast)
6 p.m. Quarter-final 3: No.1 Ryerson 79 vs. No.8 Saint Mary's 70 (TV1 webcast)
8 p.m. Quarter-final 4: No.4 Alberta vs. No.5 Dalhousie (TV1 webcast)