#7 Brock (14-5, 9-4) 74, #4 Ryerson (15-3, 13-1) 65… 6’5″ Johneil Simpson came off the bench to score 14 of his team-high 17 points including all three of his 3’s after halftime while 6’7″ Dani Elgadi had a momentum-changing block in the fourth quarter – one of his 4 blocks in the game and part of his dominant 17-point/11-rebound/4-block effort – leading the Badgers to a character win in front of a Brock record crowd of over 3,000 at the Meridian Center in St. Catharines. Ryerson suffered their first OUA loss of the season, breaking the nation’s second longest winning streak of the season at 14.
The game was played as part of a signature event for U-Sport basketball in an electric environment that included large sections of fans for both teams wearing both teams colors, producing another example of top-quality event planning and execution by Brock’s excellent staff led by Robert Hilson, the most underrated sports management executive in U-Sport.
Simpson, the long, explosive wing with a propensity for scoring in bunches when he gets it going, was instrumental in a game-changing 14-2 Brock run that erased a 10 point Ryerson lead midway through the third quarter. Ryerson had built that lead on a 7-0 run led by 6’3″ Adika Peter-McNeilly (13 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals but 6 turnovers and only 5 for 23 from the floor) and 6’6″ Keevon Small, but Simpson got to the rim and later his long, arcing three from the left wing gave Brock their first lead since the first half at 48-46 and Ryerson never led again.
Later, after Rams 6’4″ dynamic wing Ammanuel Diressa tied it at 55 with a three, 6’3″ Ryan Bennett knock in a clutch 3 of his own to give Brock the lead for good. Elgadi made sure that the lead and the momentum stayed with the Badgers when, with just over 3 minutes to play and Brock clinging to a three-point lead, the long 6’7″ forward came from out of nowhere to pin up McNeilly’s take to the rim, further igniting the sell-out crowd and on the ensuing possession Simpson brought the house down after banging in a three from the right wing to essentially clinch it.
Rams struggled all evening making perimeter shots, finishing just 7 for 37 from beyond the arc and, as importantly, were out-rebounded 48-39 as Elgadi, who has had by his standards a lesser season up to now, re-established himself as one of the top players in the conference with a big game in a big spot. Diressa led Ryerson with 15 points (2-8 threes), 9 rebounds and 4 assists while 5’11” point guard Myles Charvis had a quiet 14 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists, making only one shot in the second half – an important three from just in front of the Ryerson bench late to keep it closer.
While Elgadi and Simpson were instrumental for Brock in the win, Bennett made two big shots down the stretch and finished with 11 points while 5’11” Tyler Brown competed and was solid in the final 15 minutes for Brock, frankly outplaying his counterparts during that timeframe. Badgers also got their most productive game in a big spot from uOttawa transfer Mo Ismail, who hit a big three early in the third and finished with 8 valuable and momentum-continuing points.
Badgers have a quick turnaround in Guelph this evening. But the heart of the story is the big-time event atmosphere last night in St. Catharines that hopefully will continue with many more such high-end events.