A fired up McGill team came closer than any other Quebec school has in putting a smudge of imperfection on the Concordia Stingers’ undefeated season.
Coming off a win in Ste-Foy over Laval the night before, Concordia came out looking sluggish and unmotivated on its home court against the team’s biggest rival on Saturday afternoon. As a result, McGill was able to amass an early 10-point lead, the largest deficit Concordia had faced after one quarter so far this season. Concordia showed more life in the second quarter and managed to cut the deficit to six. Still, there were many areas of concern for Concordia at halftime. The Stingers were outrebounded in the first half by an embarrassing margin, 33-15 as McGill picked up almost as many offensive boards, 14, as Concordia did in total.
“Our forwards just didn’t do their jobs tonight,” said coach John Dore.
Whether or not the late travel night on Friday had an effect on the Stingers’ play, their coach wasn’t giving the benefit of the doubt to a team that has been starting games slow lately.
“There’s no excuses,” said Dore. “You’ve got to come out and play. Both teams have 40 minutes to play and we don’t make excuses.”
After building some late second quarter momentum, Concordia came out of the half looking sluggish yet again, and quickly found themselves back down by 11 points. Finally, though, the Stingers awoke from their slumber and closed the quarter on an 18-6 run, which ended with Decee Krah making a three-point shot as time expired in the quarter, firing up his team and the packed gymnasium, and giving Concordia a three-point lead going into the game’s final quarter.
The Redmen deserve credit though, as they were unwilling to simply play the role of red carpet on the Stingers’ march to perfection.
Redmen point Vincent Dufort hit two free throws to give McGill a one-point lead with only 1:44 to play in the game—the latest
Concordia had trailed in a game
As is often the case in university sports, experience prevailed over youth as a Stingers team stocked with veterans was able to force six turnovers in the final 90 seconds of the game and closed out the afternoon on a 9-0 run, securing the team’s seventh RSEQ win of the season.
Afterwards, the team was happy with the win but not the effort.
“We won and that’s what matters, but it’s the same story,” said Stingers fifth-year guard Decee Krah who finished the game with 14 points. “We won every quarter after the first but we had to battle back the entire game. We won by eight but we [wanted to win] by 20 or 30.”
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in the weekend for Concordia was the fact the team failed to “send a message” by blowing out teams in its weak conference, something many players have said is a priority.
“We know how good the competition is out east and out west,” said guard Kyle Desmarais. “We lost by 16 to St. F-X (who is ranked fourth in the CIS). We have no delusions about being a top three team right now. We are very far from that but we believe we have the capabilities.”
Ironically, the losing team may have come away feeling more like winners.
“I’m very proud of my team,” said McGill coach Dave DeAveiro. “When you play on the road against a good team like Concordia you need to almost be perfect to win. We did a lot of good things but there are still things we need to improve on.”
Concordia’s next game is on the road against Bishop’s, Friday Jan. 27 at 8 p.m.