Kyle Desmarais found himself at the free throw line four times in the last two minutes of the Stingers’ home opener Friday night.
McGill had jumped out to a 60-53 lead earlier in the quarter, but took four fouls in five minutes and Concordia benefitted from the bonus free throws that resulted from McGill’s frustration.
When Desmarais stepped up to the line for the first time in the quarter, Decee Krah’s fifth three-pointer of the night had tied the score at 65.
His first shot went in, but not the second. The Stingers had a one-point lead.
But another foul on McGill rookie Simon Bibeau sent Desmarais right back to the line. This time, he made no mistake.
In fact, he was perfect at the line for the rest of the game, netting six points for Concordia and lifting them over the Redmen by a score of 72-68.
Standing on the foul line so late in the game when the score is close may be daunting for some. But Desmarais knows he’s the right guy for the job.
“In my head I say “Okay. I’ve been there before, I’ve done it before, it’s no big deal, I wouldn’t rather anybody on the line but me.’ So that kind of calms me down. “
He also mentioned that head coach John Dore’s new relaxation techniques help him in those kinds of situations.
“We also do some meditation, so we practice methods and ways of calming yourself down so that you’ll be able to just cool out and get the shot.”
McGill scored the first basket of the game, but also took the first foul. James Clark made two of three foul shots to tie the game at two.
Bibeau came out strong for the Redmen, making a basket, two three-pointers and recording a steal in a matter of three minutes.
With five minutes left in the opening quarter, Evens Laroche was dribbling at the top of McGill’s key. Seeing no opportunities to pass, a look of pure determination came over his face and he drove right in through the McGill defenders and drew a foul. The two shots he made at the line were good and brought the Stingers within one.
But Concordia could never grab the lead in the first. They went into the second quarter trailing 20-15.
About 40 seconds into the second quarter, Desmarais stole a bounce pass intended for McGill’s Olivier Bouchard and made a layup. Krah sunk his second three-pointer of the night and Concordia had their first lead of the game, 23-22.
The Redmen would regain the lead after a jump shot by Bibeau and a free throw by veteran Michael White, but Morgan Tajfel made two shots from beyond the arc and gave the Stingers their biggest lead of the game, 29-25.
McGill tied it up two minutes later, then took the lead after a basket by Karim Sy-Morissette.
But with seconds left on the clock, Jean-Andre Moussignac dribbled down the court and passed to Aamir Gyles, who powered through the key to take the shot. At the last minute, he dished to Kevin Selman, who put it up for his second basket of the season. At the half, the score was tied at 33.
The two teams kept the score close in the third. The Stingers secured 13 rebounds in the quarter alone, compared to McGill’s two. Laroche generated seven of Concordia’s 18 points in the quarter, including three when he made a shot but was fouled by Nicholas Langley.
But the Stingers still trailed the Redmen by the end of the third quarter and continued to trail until three minutes had elapsed in the third, when Zach Brisebois’ two foul shots started the Stingers’ comeback from a 60-53 deficit.
Brisebois finished the night with eight rebounds, the most of any player on either team.
Laroche and Krah carried most of the offensive weight for the Stingers, netting 20 and 18 points respectively.
Desmarais netted 13 points, including his foul-line heroics at the end of the game.
Coach Dore gave McGill credit for their performance and acknowledged that the games will be tough this year.
“Everybody knows each other really well… so every game is going to be highly competitive,” he said after the game.
At the end of last week, the team was ranked sixth in Canada. The standings for this week will be released after press time.
The Stingers won their game on Saturday against Bishop’s 74-65. They will host Laval at home in a rematch of their season opener Dec. 4. Tip off is at 6 p.m.