Despite an exhilarating comeback attempt, the Concordia Stingers fell to the McGill Redmen by a score of 67-65 in a close game that was literally decided at the final buzzer.
For the second time this season, familiar foes McGill and Concordia squared off. Supporters from both sides piled into Concordia’s pint-sized gym in droves, creating an ultimately tense and electric atmosphere
By simply surveying the court, it was apparent that this was no ordinary game. It was a meeting between two very familiar adversaries and the first quarter’s intensity was a testament to that fact.
The first quarter was played at a furious pace. The Stingers started the game off rather well, opening a quick 5-0 on baskets by Stingers guard Decee Krah and forward Kafil Eyitayo.
However, that lead would soon evaporate as the Redmen quickly answered with a 6-0 run of their own.
From that point on, the Redmen seemed to turn up their defensive intensity, employing an aggressive half-court press that seemed to completely disrupt whatever offensive rhythm the Stingers had.
The Stingers lacked patience, often rushing their shots and turning the ball over at seemingly every second possession, which severely hampered the limited offensive opportunity they had. McGill didn’t seem to capitalize however, as they only led 15-11 after the first quarter.
Kyle Desmarais and Eyitayo opened the second quarter with two quick baskets that tied the game at 15 apiece. The Redmen were quick to reply thanks to layups by Winn Clark and Kyle Bernard which pushed the lead back up to four points.
From then on, both teams were terrible. There was a five-minute stretch in which neither team scored a single basket. Nevertheless, the Stingers trailed 27-22 at the half in what was up to that point an intense and energetic, but overall sloppy game.
In the third quarter, the Stingers came out with noticeably more aggression. They attacked the rim more frequently and settled for less jump shots. This, combined with the fact that they were also crashing the boards and controlling in the paint, led to a small surge that saw them threaten to take the lead. However, that had largely been the story of the game. Everything the Stingers did, the Redmen had an answer to.
Led by first-year guard Simon Bibeau, McGill seemed to take complete control of the game, establishing a 57-43 lead, which was their largest lead of the game. McGill’s superior size and aggressiveness seemed to be taking a bit of a toll on the Stingers as the game was slowly slipping from their grasp. The score was 53-43 after three quarters of play.
In the latter half of the fourth quarter, the Stingers would dig down deep and display a sense of urgency that would allow them to claw their way back into the game.
An effective full-court press enabled them to put constant pressure on McGill ball handlers and force costly turnovers from the Redmen.
The constant pressure applied by the home team allowed them to score four points with a mere 18 seconds left, when Frank Fiola scored a runner off the glass that brought the Stingers within two points.
On the McGill possession, Concordia’s Desmarais came up with a huge steal, ran the length of the floor and was fouled on a shot attempt as time expired.
Therefore, with no time left on the clock, Desmarais had to sink two free throws to force overtime. Sadly for the Stingers and their fans, he missed the first one, making the second utterly meaningless. The Stingers lost 67-65.
Concordia forward Evans Laroche re-injured his ankle in the fourth quarter and is listed as day-to-day.
“We didn’t play well,” said Stingers head coach John Dore. “Yet, give the guys some credit because we came back in the game. We had a chance, and we were there. We fought to get back in it, but not enough. We didn’t deserve to win, McGill did.”
The Stingers’ next game will be on the road against Bishop’s at the Mitchell Gym on Thursday night. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.