Friday night was Brock basketball’s third game at the Meridian Centre in the last two seasons, and the university continued to set new records, as 3,018 fans were in attendance.
The men’s game featured number four ranked Ryerson taking on number six ranked Brock. The Rams came into the game with an undefeated 12-0 record, but the nerves were noticeable for both teams.
The Rams failed to score on their first five attempts from the field, allowing Brock to take a quick 12-1 lead. Ryerson, having won all their games by 17 more points, battled back as they went on a 8-0 run to cut the lead to three.
After being down by six at the end of the first quarter, Ryerson was able to prove that they are one of the OUA’s best teams, battling back and dominating the Badgers for most of the second quarter. After only scoring 13 points in the first quarter, they outscored the Badgers 24-15 in the second to take a 37-34 lead into the half.
Despite shooting a miserable 35.3 per cent from the field, they were able to stop the Badgers from piling on key points thanks to great defense. Adika Peter-McNeilly led the way with five of his team’s 11 steals.
Brock head coach Charles Kissi didn’t fail to use his role players off the bench as Johneil Simpson and Cassidy Ryan stepped up and played key minutes. Elgadi was the Badgers best player of the half offensively, scoring 12 points and adding six rebounds and four assists.
The second half started off just as the first half did, some poor shooting performances from both teams, keeping the score low. Ryerson got out to their biggest lead of the game when they went on a seven point run to start the half. However, Brock made a couple of threes and brought the game back to within three points. Ryerson began playing like they did to start the game, repeatedly missing on all their shot attempts. With frustration boiling over, Ryerson head coach Roy Rana was hit with a technical foul that fueled Brock’s come back. At the end of the third quarter, the Badgers were up 52-50.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Rams were shooting just 32.7 per cent from the field, including just 14.3 per cent from behind the arc. With the momentum in the Badgers favour, the fourth quarter was about to prove whether or not they can compete with the top teams of the OUA.
The Badgers, backed up by the cheers of their home crowd, were able to keep their momentum going. Simpson was lights out from three point territory, where it seemed he would hit a shot every time Ryerson brought the game within a few points. Within the final two minutes, Brock would be able to keep Ryerson from hitting extremely important baskets.
The game would finish with the Badgers upsetting the Rams 74-65. Johneil Simpson and Dani Elgadi led the way with 17 points each, but it was an overall team effort that got the job done. The Badgers shot 46 per cent from the field, including 43.5 from three. The Rams were the complete opposite, only shooting 30.4 per cent from the field and 18.9 per cent from behind the arc.
This win gives the Badgers new life and puts them back in conversation as one of the country’s top teams. Brock also beat Ryerson in preseason, so this win wasn’t a fluke and the win also moves the Badgers into the third seed if the playoffs were to start today.
The Badgers will now take on divisional opponent Guelph on Saturday before closing out the season against the OUA west division. It’s looking highly likely that the Badgers will finish the season with a first round bye, something they missed out on last season.