SPORTS

Jahmal Jones leads Ryerson to basketball bronze in final Rams game

03/15/2015 02:35 EDT | Updated 05/15/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Jahmal Jones' final game for the Ryerson Rams was one to remember Sunday.

The six-foot guard from Mississauga, Ont., poured in 25 points, including 12 in a dominant final quarter, as the seventh-seeded Rams defeated the fourth-seeded Victoria Vikes 82-68 to win bronze at the CIS men's basketball championship.

The game preceded the all-Ottawa championship showdown between the top-seeded Carleton Ravens and third-seeded Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Jones, who led the Rams this season with 17.2 points per game, was held to two points by the Gee-Gees in the Rams' 84-75 semifinal loss Saturday night.

"It's heartbreaking to see when a young kid who has had such a special career struggle on a big stage (Saturday night)," said Ryerson coach Roy Rana. "I think he bounced back and showed people why he's one of the best players in the country today.

"I'm very proud to say he played for me."

A jitterbug of a guard, the 160-pound Jones plays with speed and vision — and his mouthpiece usually half-sticking out of his mouth as he advances.

The 24-year-old hit just one-of-seven shots against the Gee-Gees. On Sunday, he hit 12-of-20 including six-of-seven in the fourth as the Rams put the game away with a 15-0 run that pushed their lead to 76-60.

Jones was too emotional to meet the media afterwards, according to a Ryerson official.

Adika Peter-McNeilly added 21 points for the Rams, who had only about 12 hours to get ready for the 11:30 a.m. ET start Sunday.

Ryerson, 17-2 in the regular season, was ranked third in the country for most of the season. But it was seeded seventh here after fading in the OUA playoffs.

Big man Chris McLaughlin had 22 points to lead the fourth-seeded Vikes, who came into the tournament as Canada West champs after a 15-5 regular season.

Despite the short turnaround, Rana said his team's speed and fitness made the difference.

"We did a better job of taking the ball out of McLaughlin's hands down the stretch," said Rana. "He's a pretty special player for them."

Victoria fell victim to another slow start with a 12-2 early Ryerson run. But the Vikes, despite having point guard Marcus Tibbs in foul trouble, rallied to cut the margin to 39-37 at the half. Grant Sitton gave Victoria a boost off the bench with 11 first-half points.

Victoria made it a contest in a back-and-forth third, trailing 56-55 going into the final quarter.

The Mattamy Athletic Centre crowd for the bronze-medal game was nowhere near Saturday's sellout of 4,056. But the Rams fans here did their part.

"This is what I think university should be about," said Rana. "It was a great week for our university and our kids."

Ryerson went 38-115 in the five years prior to Rana's arrival in 2009. In 2003-'04, it failed to win a game (0-22) and only won one the next year (1-21).

Rana's teams have recorded double-digit wins in each of his six seasons.

Asked if he thought the Ryerson program was on the rise, Rana replied: "I don't think we're on the rise. I think we're there."

Ryerson opened the tournament with an 82-68 win over No. 2 Windsor.

The Vikes, who edged No. 5 Dalhousie 57-56 in their opener, had a little more turnaround time having lost 83-74 to Carleton in the earlier semifinal Saturday.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

MORE:cpSports