The Concordia Stingers (9-2) held on to first place in the Quebec University Basketball League last weekend, but not without a scare from an unlikely source.
Concordia’s 83-79 win at UQAM Saturday night came after forty minutes of sloppy basketball from a Stinger team looking to build on its biggest win of the season, a 69-60 win at second-place Bishop’s a night earlier.
Instead the Stingers looked tired, turning the ball over and making mental errors that first place teams usually avoid.
The win was the Stingers’ smallest margin of victory against a conference opponent since last year, and it came against the third-year Citadins – a team Concordia beat by an average of 27.5 points in their two previous meetings this season.
“We had no energy on the court,” said sophomore forward Andre Johnny, who made his fourth straight start in the win. “Our effort wasn’t there and we shouldn’t have come out as flat as we did.”
UQAM head coach Olga Hrycak had her own reasoning.
“Our guys are learning how to play against the best,” Hrycak said of her 2-8 team comprised mostly of first and second-year players. “We’re playing much better as a team than we were earlier this year, and that’s to be expected from a young team. This was a very encouraging effort.”
UQAM not only led Concordia by as many as five points in the second half, but they did so without two regulars from their starting lineup.
Patrick Perrotte led the Stingers in scoring in both road victories last weekend. He collected 23 points in the win at UQAM on an impressive 8-10 shooting and a perfect 7/7 from the foul line.
Perrotte also played out of position for much of the game, filling in at centre for Ben McCarthy who was limited with foul trouble, and Jamal Gallier who remains hobbled with a knee injury.
“I can’t explain why we played like that,” Perrotte said. “The bottom line is that we won, but we made too many mental mistakes to be satisfied.”
“We’ve worked our asses off to get to first place,” Johnny said. “But then to play a game like this, is inexcusable. We can’t say it’s fatigue. Playing back-to-backs is no excuse. When you go to nationals it’s three games in three days.”
Concordia led by seven at halftime, but the Citadins climbed back into the game with a 15-0 run early in the second half and took their first lead with 15:31 left in the game.
Kevin Boucher led the Citadins with 23 points, including a perfect 4-4 on three-pointers. The long-range shot often came out of necessity for Boucher with Perrotte’s strong defence under the Concordia basket limiting many looks in the paint.
While the Stingers blame their ineffectiveness on mental errors, the most costly mistake between the ears was made by UQAM guard Marc-Olivier Beauchamp, whose technical foul with 2:41 left to play gave Concordia the edge it needed.
With the score tied at 75, freshman Damian Buckley made both foul shots that followed. Buckley also came up big in the game’s final seconds, intercepting a pass under the Concordia basket with five seconds left in regulation with the Citadins looking to tie the score at 81.
Instead UQAM had no choice but to foul Buckley who calmly made two more free throws, to give Concordia the 83-79 win.
The Stingers return to the court Friday night at 6 p.m. when they host the 7-4 Laval Rouge et Or at Loyola Gym. Laval and Concordia have split two meetings this season, each school winning on its home floor.