Despite a spirited second half surge, the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team ended the 46th annual Concordia-Nike tournament on a sour note, falling to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks by a score of 80-75.
Coming on the heels of a hard fought 79-75 victory over the Laurentian University Voyageurs, Concordia faced Wilfrid Laurier on the second day of the tournament with an opportunity to be crowned tournament champions.
The Stingers were shorthanded going into the contest, as Kyle Desmarais, Jerome Blake and Morgan Tajfel were unable to play.
Concordia was in control for the vast majority of the game, outplaying and outscoring Wilfrid Laurier in the game’s first, third and fourth quarters. However, it was a disastrous second quarter meltdown that did the Stingers in. The Golden Hawks outscored the Stingers 29-11 and grabbed a lead that they would not relinquish.
“I thought we competed fairly hard,” said Stingers’ head coach John Dore. “We simply lost focus in the second quarter […] and that cost us the game.”
The Stingers stormed out of the gates in the first quarter, quickly taking command and establishing a 22-16 lead. Concordia ultimately lost their edge and simply failed to do the things that got them their lead in the first place.
They were out rebounded on the offensive glass and failed to close out on the Golden Hawks’ perimeter shooters, allowing them to drain three pointers at will.
On offence, Concordia looked disorganized and disoriented, making poor decisions that resulted in turnovers and transition opportunities that the Golden Hawks took advantage of.
“We weren’t patient or poised enough on offence,” said Dore. “Defensively, we got caught in transition a lot, not getting back and allowing them to stand and shoot open shots.”
James Clark, who scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds in the losing effort, agreed with his coach regarding what went wrong, in what ended up being the games most pivotal quarter.
“We just kinda got out of what was working for us,” said the fifth-year forward. “We gambled too often and we weren’t really moving the ball as a team. It was bad on both ends of the floor. They moved the ball really well. They were always looking for the open man and they can all shoot the ball really well, so that right there hurt us a lot.”
Whatever was said in the Stingers locker room between halves must have had a real effect on the team because they were a drastically different team in the third quarter.
For the first time since the game’s first quarter, they looked like a cohesive unit rebounding the ball and applying excellent defensive pressure and making their shots on offence.
However, every time the Stingers would get within striking range of Laurier’s lead, the Golden Hawks would hit a big shot, ultimately thwarting any Stingers comeback.
Epitomizing Laurier’s refusal to give up their lead occurred when Concordia’s Frank Fiola hit a Â runner and cut the visitor’s lead to 73-71.
Laurier immediately answered back when Golden Hawks’ guard William Coulthard drained a three-pointer, putting a dagger into Concordia’s heart. The Stingers couldn’t generate any momentum after that and eventually lost by five.
Despite the loss, the team remains optimistic heading into the 2011-12 season, viewing the Concordia-Nike tournament as a good indicator of both the progress they have made and still need to make as a team.
“The tournament is an indication of how we should improve,” said Clark. “We defended well for three quarters but if you have 26 turnovers, it’s hard to win a game. This tournament showed us what we really have to take of the ball and just have a better attitude going forward.”
With the tournament being merely a tune-up for the four teams before regular season play begins, no champion was crowned as all teams finished with identical 1-1 records.