The Ryerson Rams are where they are today – the No. 1 seed at the U Sports Final 8 Women’s Basketball Championship in Kingston – thanks, in large part, to Jama Bin-Edward.
One of the best two-way players in the country, the Waterloo native is coming off an Most Valuable Player performance in the Rams’ historic 72-70 victory over the Brock Badgers on Saturday to claim the second Sports Championship Ontario universities.
Bin-Edward, 23, had a performance of 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and the Rams erased a 22-point deficit to win the Critelli Cup in front of a packed house at the Bob Davis Gymnasium in St. Catharines.
Ryerson head coach Carly Clarke said the performance, which led to OUA Athlete of the Week honors on Monday, speaks volumes about what the five-foot-10, fourth-place forward year, means for the team.
“Jama has a huge impact on our team in every way. She is a great leader and team player. Whether on the sidelines recovering from her previous knee injury or now back on the pitch leading our attack and defence, she always brings positive energy, passion and conviction.” said Clarke.
“As a player, she is an anchor for our defense – often defending the opposition’s best player and applying pressure all over the pitch; on offense she is a key cog – scoring, creating, rebounding. She really does a bit of everything there. Our team wouldn’t be here without her. »
Bin-Edward’s journey to the national championship in her senior year of college is a story of determination that dates back to a devastating knee injury she suffered on Jan. 15, 2020, in a regular season game. against the Waterloo Warriors. On a seemingly innocuous play, the former Resurrection Catholic High School student slipped on the floor after accepting a pass, fell awkwardly and suffered a complete torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her knee left.
The slip also caused partial tears in the medial collateral ligament (MCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and meniscus, paving a long road to recovery.
She was due for surgery in mid-March, but with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and elective procedures receding, she had to wait until August for her day in the operating room. More hurdles followed, including Bin-Edward being forced to do six months of online physical therapy due to the pandemic.
She came all the way back on Nov. 27 of last year – 682 days since coming down in Waterloo – playing 13 minutes against the Ontario Tech RidgeBacks in Oshawa.
“Oh my God, just being able to get dressed, put the uniform back on, that feeling…I knew I missed it, but I didn’t realize how much I missed it, putting on the shirt and being on the pitch and playing. with my team,” Bin-Edward said.
“And we have such great players that it was so easy for me to get into the movement, and it wasn’t a difficult transition from training to playing. It was such an exciting time, especially knowing how much time and effort I put into it.
Bin-Edward has started 11 straight games since resuming the schedule Feb. 9 and helped the Rams go 14-0 in the regular season and three playoff wins.
She was at her best in the playoffs, averaging 18.3 points and six rebounds per outing on a Ryerson team contesting their second straight national championship.
“I feel like now in the playoffs I’m starting to pick up my pace, and I feel like that was before I tore my ACL, obviously not trying to wear the damn it,” Bin-Edward said.
Ryerson will face the No. 8 UPEI Panthers on Thursday in the National Championship opener and look to avenge a first-round loss to the same team in 2020. That loss, of course, came with Bin- Edward on the injury list.
This time, she believes, it will be different.
“We’re nervous because this is what we’ve been working towards all year, but we’re also very excited and confident in our abilities and our team,” said Bin-Edward, a former Tri-County Thunder player. in the Junior Elite League.
“Last Saturday was obviously a very good test for us, and we showed what we can do in a difficult situation. This week we have to win Thursday to get to Saturday and win Saturday to get to Sunday (the league game ), so take it one game at a time.
Bid-Edward, who played at The Rise Center academy in Brantford after three years in Resurrection, has yet to decide if that will be the case for basketball. She didn’t rule out looking for professional opportunities but didn’t give it much thought.
“I’ve been focused on this season,” she said. “It could be the perfect end to my journey if we end with a win.”
Behind the Rams, the standings are rounded out by the Saskatchewan Huskies (Canada West champions), No. 2, the Winnipeg Wesmen (Canada West finalists), No. 4, Brock Badgers (OUA finalists), and No. 5, Acadia Axewomen (Atlantic Champions). , Laval Rouge et Or No. 6 (Quebec champions), Queen’s Gaels No. 7 (hosts) and UPEI Panthers No. 8 (wild card).