2008 has so far seen mixed results for the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team, who managed to squeak by Bishop’s 72-70 but fell at home to the McGill Redmen 77-76.
Concordia 72-Bishop’s 70 Starting point guard Damian Buckley keyed the Stingers to their second victory over the visiting Gaiters, scoring a team-high 23 points and 10 assists. While they took time to get going, the Stingers offence kept pace with a Bishop’s team that jumped to an early
16-3 lead halfway through the first quarter. Concordia soon found some of its scoring touch, leading the Gaiters 39-36 at halftime. Despite missing starting center Jamal Gallier (day-to-day with an ankle
injury), Concordia dominated the offensive boards 20-8. The bench was able to pick up some of the offensive slack, with forward James Clark notching 13 points and 9 rebounds and Christon Henry hitting 80 per cent from the field and grabbing eleven
points. “Guys came of the bench and
produced, that was needed because we couldn’t get into any rhythm early on in the game,” said Stingers shooting guard Levi Vann. With 4:12 left on the clock and the score tied at 66, guard Damien Buckley
came into the game and took it over. After draining six consecutive shots form the field, Buckley showed why he is one of the most clutch players in the CIS, getting the ball and dropping the winning field goal with seven seconds on the clock. “It was definetly one of my better games, we hung in there and I was able to step up and take control of the game and get a big shot for us,” he said. The victory against Bishop’s was the second time this year that Concordia has beaten the Gaiters by two points. The teams will meet each other in
two weeks when Concordia travels to
McGill 77-Concordia 76
Moustafa el Zanati scored 20 points and Sean Anthony added 17 more as the McGill Redmen ended a six-year winless streak against Concordia with a 77-76 victory. The Stingers continued their struggles in their second game of 2008, as the team blew
two 10-point leads in a match plagued by inconsistency. It was McGill’s first win against Concordia in ten matches between the two rivals. Anthony proved harder for
the Stingers to control than in the first
game between the two teams, an 81-62 victory for the Stingers. The McGill
forward shot sixty per cent from the field and hauled in eight rebounds as Concordia could not find an effective replacement for injured center Jamal Gallier. “We had no inside presence in the game, which was the big difference from the last time we played them,” said Stingers head coach John Dore.
“Guys were also missing a few layups and easy shots so we were hurting ourselves more than anything.” The offense disappeared in the second quarter when guard Damian Buckley got in foul trouble and left the game, as Concordia nearly went four minutes without registering a single basket. This prompted a 15-0 scoring run by
the Redmen, who went into halftime
with a 44-39 lead. However, a couple of early three point scores in the third frame by Stinger guards Levi Vann and Pierre
Thompson brought some momentum to the Concordia side. After allowing another score inside, forward Sebastien Martin came back down the court and fired off a three point shot that brought the Stingers within one score of the lead. Martin got the ball inside on the next possession, banging it in before getting back on defense and taking a charge with 3:12 left in the quarter. This touched off a nine point scoring run that saw the third quarter end with a 64-56 Concordia lead. Unfortunately for Concordia, the final frame resembled the second quarter more than it did the third. McGill continued to make quick, efficient passes to find their open shot and repeatedly frustrated any defensive
pressure from the Stingers. On the
offensive end, Concordia fell into taking individual shots and committing some key turnovers keeping the Redmen in the game.
“We were playing the game in spurts, we’d get a lead and guys would just start to relax and make mistakes,” said Stinger guard Damian Buckley, who finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. “We have to respect our opponent and be less dependent on certain players to get the job done.”
The game ended in a flurry of three pointer. Capitalizing on Stingers mistakes was forward Louis Phillippe Lagredelle, who hit an uncontested three point shot with 3:12 remaining in the game that knotted the score 71-71. After the Redmen went up by three points, Vann tied the score with a three of his own. However, Anthony made good on his last possession, hitting a deep three with one minute left. After missing a shot, Concordia pulled out a defensive stop that gave a chance to Andre Johnny, who was fouled on his three point attempt. With the chance to tie the game by hitting three consecutive free throws, Johnny made his first two easily. However his tying shot bounced of the rim and out, sealing McGill’s first win against Concordia since November 2002.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” said McGill head coach Craig Norman. “We matched their intensity on rebounds and battled well on defense down the stretch.”
Despite the fact that the team had played four games in a ten day stretch, Concordia head coach John Dore maintained that his team’s performance in the past two games has left a lot to be desired.
“Our players have to accept responsibility for their actions and evaluate their game,” he said. “We have to reload and focus on practice to improve ourselves mentally and physically.”
With the loss to McGill, Concordia has dropped to 4-2 on the season. The team is now in a three-way race with both the Redmen and Laval for the conference title. Laval will visit the Stingers this Saturday at 4:00 p.m.