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Stingers one step closer to repeat

by Archives March 4, 2008

Damian Buckley may not have won the Quebec conference MVP award, but there is no doubt who the best player on the court was in the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team’s 80-77 semi-final victory over the UQAM Citadins on Friday night at the Concordia Gym.
“Damian is the best point guard in the league, by far,” said Stingers coach John Dore. “I hope he will be an all-Canadian because what he has done is incredible.”
“He does more than you can ask anyone to do. Offensively, defensively, bringing the ball up the court and he does it all over the court,” Dore said.
Buckley had 30 points, five rebounds and six assists in the win, but his biggest contribution was on the defensive side of the ball.
The possession following a Levi Vann three-pointer put the Stingers up by four with 45 seconds to go, Buckley went around a UQAM player’s backside to get a steal, but was fouled on the ensuing fast break. Buckley hit one of two free throws to put the Stingers up by five with 24 seconds to go.
“I came out scoring,” said Buckley who scored 20 of his 30 points in the first half. “But they made adjustments and I decided to give up the ball. Because I’m a captain and a veteran on this team I took it upon myself to work harder defensively,” he said.
Buckley converted a three-point play with two minutes remaining in the final quarter to put Concordia up 75-74. On the team’s next possession, he was instrumental in the play that led to Vann’s three-pointer.
“Coming out of the time out, I told Levi that I was going to go to him,” Buckley said. “I fumbled the ball at half court, and [rookie Decee Krah] picked it up and found Levi in the corner,” he said. “It was meant to be.”
The Stingers wouldn’t have been able to do it with Buckley alone. Jamal Gallier also had a huge game for the Stingers.
The centre had 18 points and 10 rebounds and was huge in the second half when UQAM forced Buckley to start giving up the ball.
“We had to start working inside-out and the team thought I could take their guys inside, and I felt comfortable,” Gallier said.
The Stingers out-rebounded the Citadins 37-21 and dominated on the defensive glass where Concordia had 23 defensive rebounds compared to UQAM’s seven offensive rebounds.
“I thought the fact that we out-rebounded them was the difference in the game,” said Dore. “They are a very good rebounding team,” he said.
Concordia now prepares to face the Laval Rouge et Or in the Quebec final as they try to repeat their Quebec championship experience.
Laval was the runaway leader in the Quebec conference and finished with a 13-3 record compared to Concordia’s 9-7 mark. Concordia has yet to beat the Rouge et Or this season through four meetings.
“The key will be to play four quarters,” said Dore. “We have been close against them for three quarters of every game we’ve played them.”
“We’re going to Quebec city to win,” he said.
Concordia trailed 19-17 after the first quarter, but took the lead early in the second on a Buckley three-point play. That was followed by three-pointers by Vann and Pierre Thompson as the Stingers took a 26-19 lead only a minute and a half into the second quarter.
The Stingers biggest lead of the game was 58-48 in the third quarter. Concordia took a four point lead into the final quarter.
Veteran Andre Johnny had six points and eight rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter. UQAM guard Mario Joseph led his team in points with 16. Joseph Atangana, Jules Diagne and Kevin Boucher also finished in the double-digits for the Citadins.
It was the third straight year that the Stingers hosted UQAM in the QSSF Semi-Final. Concordia won the last two after dropping the game two years ago.

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