The Concordia Stingers and Bishop’s Gaiters men’s basketball teams were evenly matched for every quarter except one last Friday night.
Concordia outscored Bishop’s 25-15 in the third quarter, enough to propel the Stingers to a 71-59 victory. The win keeps Concordia perfect after its first three games. Bishop’s, on the other hand, will head into the Christmas break winless.
Concordia looked a bit off early on and went into halftime with a slim one-point lead over a team that it is, quite frankly, much more talented than.
Whatever coach John Dore said to his team at the break must have worked.
After Bishop’s took a 29-28 lead early in the third (it would be the last time the Gaiters led in the game) Concordia, led by forward Evens Laroche and guard Kyle Desmarais, finally took a hold of the steering wheel and put the pedal to the floor.
The Stingers outscored the Gaiters 22-7 in a span of just over six minutes to take a commanding 51-37 lead. Laroche and Desmarais would finish with 17 and 14 points respectively, leading the team.
The win sends Concordia into the winter break in sole possession of first place, something coach Dore was stressing at halftime with Concordia lagging.
“It was something he just kept telling us,” said Desmarais. “It really hit us hard because we wanted to win that game to go into the break on a high note. We had a lot riding on that game.”
The Stingers are still waiting to see if they have been able to crawl into the CIS Top 10 rankings. The team still feels it was unfairly left out of the rankings.
Laroche commented last week that the team’s goal is not just to win, but to win big.
Desmarais echoed the feelings of Laroche after Friday’s contest. “We do care [about the margin of victory] because it will effect our ranking nationally,” he said. “Right now we’re not in the top 10 and that’s something that resides with us. We’re not very happy about that; we feel we’re a top five team. But in order to send a message to the rest of the country we need to be beating teams by 30 or even 40 to show people we’re in a league of our own over here.”
The fact that this year the Quebec conference is very weak makes it even more important for Concordia to assert its will over its opponents.
“That’s exactly why we need to be beating teams by that kind of margin,” said Desmarais. “If we play every team really close we’ll look like we’re just as good as the rest of the teams here but we know we’re much better than that.”
Concordia now has over a month off before its next game. While the team has built up some early season momentum, the month long break is still welcomed. Forward James Clark, the Stingers’ best inside scorer, has been sidelined with a broken wrist. The vacation, though, should give him the time he needs to heal and he is expected back when the Stingers return in January.
Concordia will travel to UQAM for its next game on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 8 p.m.