With the bitter taste of a 70-64 defeat at the hands of the McGill Redmen still fresh in their mouths, the Concordia Stingers got back to their winning ways with an 86-81 victory over the Bishop’s University Gaiters, who remain winless in league play.
However, as indicated by the score mentioned above, the victory did not come as easily as expected. This was partly due to the fact Concordia was without the services of Evens Laroche.
The star forward injured his ankle in the loss to McGill, depriving the Stingers of their leading rebounder and third leading scorer.
Concordia came out of the gates with a great deal of energy and dictated the early tempo of the game with their defensive play.
Also of note, was the early play of guard Kyle Desmarais in what were easily the best sequences of the entire game.
After hustling back in transition to block a shot at the rim, Desmarais then ran back up the court and buried a three-pointer. Then, after disrupting the ensuing Gaiters inbound, he then caught an alley-oop from Morgan Tajfel.
Immediately after this, he drew a charge at halfcourt while getting back on defense. What makes this all the more impressive is that all of it happened within a span of 30 seconds.
“Basically what I tried to do today was be aggressive, try and make things happen and try and get the team pumped up” said Desmarais. “That’s why I got that block, I got a three, I got that alley-oop and the charge. I felt good today.”
Desmarais’ intensity seemed infectious as the Stingers stifling full court press made it difficult for the Gaiters to pass halfcourt, let alone score. This defensive onslaught allowed the Stingers to build up a 21-8 lead. However, their intensity faded towards the end of the quarter, allowing the visitors to close out the quarter on a 7-1 run, making the score 22-15 in favor of Concordia.
In the second quarter, Bishop’s switched from their man-to-man coverage and employed a “1-3-1” zone defense that gave the Stingers problems.
Concordia had pushed the lead back up to nine points but a 7-0 run by the Gaiters brought them within two points of the lead. Fortunately for the Stingers, a pair of buckets by guards Tajfel and Jean-AndrÃ© Moussignac gave them a 40-34 lead heading into halftime.
In the third, the Stingers started to open the game up. A three-pointer by guard Decee Krah gave them a 50-35 lead.
However, a combination of the Stingers’ sloppy play and Bishop’s effective zone defense kept the Gaiters in the game. The score remained relatively close as the Stingers held onto the lead with 60-50 heading into the fourth.
In the game’s final quarter, the Stingers managed to build up a 68-55 advantage by the midway point only to become careless with the ball and let the Gaiters back in the game. Led by the inspired play of Tim Hunter, the Gaiters gave Concordia a scare, making it an 80-81 game with a minute to go.
However, the Stingers were able to pull out a hard-fought five-point victory.
Assistant coach David Bloom was pleased with his team’s overall performance, but admitted that things would have probably gone a bit smoother had Laroche been available to play.
“Losing Evens definitely hurts,” said Bloom. “I mean he was a first-team all-star last year. Anytime you lose a player of that caliber it is going to hurt the team. But I think guys stepped up. I was disappointed in some of our mental lapses but overall, I’m happy with the guys.”
With the win, the Stingers improved to 6-3 and remained in second place in the RSEQ standings.