PHOTO COURTESY OF HENRY ZHAO/THE VARSITY BLUES

The Varsity Blues women’s basketball team fell short of a win at 53–42 against the Ryerson Rams on Friday night. Despite the Rams gaining a big lead in the third quarter, the Blues tirelessly fought back and made it a close game.

The Blues wore all pink on Friday in support of the U SPORTS Shoot for the Cure campaign, and the Junior Blues Gymnastics team did a fantastic job of raising over $1,100 toward breast cancer research.

In the first quarter, Toronto opened the scoring, with Samantha Robertson finding Nada Radonjic on a baseline cut for a quick layup. Not long after, Charlotte Collyer would feed Radonjic down low again for two. Radonjic would finish with a team high of 10 points.

The second quarter saw the intensity of both sides reach a new level. Players were forcing steals and diving on loose balls as neither team wanted to give the other an advantage. The Blues took the lead early on and would go back and forth with the Rams until halftime, with Ryerson up 21–16.

Robertson’s tenacious playing style represented Toronto’s resilience throughout the second half. In the third quarter, after a foul call didn’t go her way, she responded by hitting a contested three on the ensuing possession. Ryerson’s full-court press earned them multiple steals and their vigorous zone defense helped them to a 19-point lead midway through the quarter.

The Blues collected themselves and began piercing Ryerson’s defense in the fourth. With two and a half minutes to go, the Blues were back within nine but couldn’t quite catch the Rams, and were defeated 53–42.

Teamwork requires players to fulfil different roles and not every role gets rewarded on the stat line. A big shoutout goes to Jessica Muha for relentlessly taking on Ryerson’s six-foot-four offensive powerhouse, Sofia Paska. A good four inches above the next tallest woman on the court, Paska led her team in scoring, rebounds, and blocks, finishing with a double double.

Blues guard Fiorella Granda, who has been out with an injury, spoke after the game about the team’s mutual support. “It’s a nice community,” she said, “You have people going through what you’re going through.”

Toronto has seen many players cycle through the injury list. When asked about players overcoming setbacks, Granda brought up Ariana Sider, who had suffered a concussion earlier this season.

“She came back stronger and better. Now she starts. Now she’s a leader.” Sider embodies the team’s adaptive nature by making the best of difficult circumstances.

The Blues have now lost four in a row, but as they’ve shown in the past, this is a team who can get up after being knocked down.

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