Guelph 96 #1 Ryerson 92 6’2″ Jonathan Wallace had 27 points including a clutch 3 from the top of the bowl with the shot clock winding down followed by a tough take to the rim as the Gryphons kept their playoff hopes alive with an exciting, energetic win over the #1 ranked Ryerson Rams, breaking Rams 11 game winning streak. Guleph won despite falling behind midway through the fourth quarter after blowing a 20 point lead but hung tough as Wallace, 6’6″ Ahmed Haroon (20 points, 12 rebounds and a huge 3 late) and 6’0″ Daniel Dooley (19 points, 9 assists) came through late.
6’3″ Adika Peter-McNeilly had a career-high 34 points for Ryerson while 6’5″ Aaron Best added 26 but Rams could not execute down the stretch and fell victim to a hungry team fighting for their playoff lives. Guelph remains out of a playoff spot but at 8-8 trails third-place Lakehead (9-6) by only 2 games in the loss column – Gryphs (apparently) hold the tie-breaker by virtue of point spread (teams split a pair of games in Thunder Bay before Christmas).
Guelph made 7 of their first 14 shots from downtown to forge to the large lead however Rams used their “d”, especially when they pushed up full court, to get the game to the frantic pace they love to play at and after Peter-McNeilly drove the lane in transition with under 7 minutes to go, Rams completed the comeback, eventually grabbing a 3 point lead and the air appeared to leave the gym and the Gryphs. But Dooley started a game-deciding 19-8 run with a jumper to cut it to one and then Haroon was left wide open on the right wing and made no mistake from downtown with his 4th 3 of the night, forging Guelph to an 8 point lead with a minute remaining and Gryphs clinched it on the line going 9 for 12 in the final minute.
Ryerson played without 6’7″ J.V. Mukama, 6’6″ Juwon Grannum and did not play 6’4″ Ammanuel Diressa in the first half.
Given the OUA’s peculiar and head-scratching playoff ranking format, Ryerson’s loss may not have any bearing on their ability to grab #1 seed and host Wilson Cup Final 4 if Rams get there. Guelph must make the playoffs for this game to count in those rankings – one can debate the merit of this however it is what it is. Rams now travel to Lakehead where a win for Ryerson would be a huge help for Guelph in their quest for a playoff spot. Plenty to think about given the unique format of using a ranking tool designed for 300+ teams that count each and every game and applying it to 12 teams with only games among those 12 teams counting in the ranking.