(By: Matthew Rodrigopulle)
Ryerson Rams guard Hayley Robertson had the home crowd buzzing during an impressive fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to secure a victory.
Robertson scored 16 points, two assists and two rebounds despite the Rams women’s basketball team’s 73-51 loss to the Laval Rouge et Or in the U Sports Final 8 quarterfinal tilt on Thursday.
“She’s just a competitor and I think she just goes after it and doesn’t quit,” said coach Carly Clarke on Robertson’s performance. “Her energy or compete level is a great leadership characteristic for our team and she certainly brought that for the whole time she was out there.”
The Rams entered the Final 8 as the eighth seed and as tournament hosts. As a result, they had to match up against the top team in the country, the Rouge et Or.
Ryerson was coming off a tough OUA playoff run that saw them eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Carleton Ravens. They were hoping to defy the odds by overcoming the first seeded Laval at home.
The first quarter started off well for the Rams who took a 4-0 lead off a layup from forward Jama Bin-Edward. However, things quickly turned sour once the Rouge et Or began to pounce. Despite more strong plays by Bin-Edward, who scored six points in the quarter, the first frame ended with Ryerson trailing 20-11.
Things continued to unravel for the Rams as Rouge et Or began the second half on a run to increase their lead. Despite strong efforts by Ryerson, their offence wasn’t able to crack Laval’s tough defence which held them to just eight points the entire quarter, resulting in a Rouge et Or lead of 32-19 at halftime.
The Rams came back energized to start the second half, immediately going on a 6-0 run to start the third, with huge plays from Bin-Edward and Sofia Paska that cut the deficit to just nine points. However, a string of strong offensive plays from Laval to close out the quarter put Ryerson down 52-35.
The fourth quarter was a lot like the first three, with the Rams struggling early to slow down Laval’s strong offence. However, Robertson was determined to make a difference for Ryerson, taking over with great plays to score 10 points in the quarter.
“My team has confidence for me to shoot and I have confidence for them to shoot,” she said about her fourth quarter performance. “It’s nice to see them go in, but too little too late.”
Despite her efforts, Ryerson struggled to match the tenacious offence Laval had executed all night and ultimately could not come out with a critical win.
Laval’s Sarah-Jane Marois and Claudia Emond led the Rouge et Or with 17 points each.
“We were confident going into the game but they’re a damn good team,” Robertson said. “We got to get a couple more shots to drop but I was proud of our team’s grit and tenacity even when things were down.”
Ryerson struggled offensively, missing all 14 of their three-point attempts. Laval’s defence was Ryerson’s kryptonite, shutting them down throughout the game.
Clarke says she felt that the Rams had proven all season that they were worthy competitors for Laval and they showed that through the game.
“Shots did not fall,” she said. “We just weren’t consistent enough.”
Rams forward Bin-Edward praised Laval’s depth in every position.
“Each person on their team was doing their role to the best of their ability so that was very hard to stop,” she said.
The Rams will face the Regina Cougars on Friday night in their consolation semi-final match. The winner will then go on to compete in Sunday’s consolation final for fifth place.
Bin-Edward emphasized the team’s need to finish off strong for the seniors.
As for Clarke, she’s taking this game and this tournament as a step in the right direction, despite Thursday’s result.
“This is not just about this year, it’s also about the experience moving forward and we’ll make sure to key in on that for the rest of the weekend,” she said.