After watching an archrival end their perfect season last week, the Concordia Stingers were anxious to get back on the court this weekend against Laval and UQAM and atone for the loss to McGill.
Concordia turned in two impressive performances, beating Laval 80-59 on Friday at home, and then picking up a 73-62 win at UQAM.
The slow starts and periods of lackadaisical play that plagued the Stingers in recent weeks were addressed this week during practice, and the changes were noticed come game time.
“I think it was our attitude on the team [that made the difference],” said coach John Dore. “The guys had a wake-up call. We had better practices, we were more focused and intense, and maybe had a bit better understanding of what we need to do.”
While he was happy with his team’s effort, Dore was never too concerned with the overall motivation level of his team. “The guys should get excited about playing the games, that’s why we work so hard in practice,” he said. “They’re here because they want to be here, so it shouldn’t be hard to get motivated.”
On Friday night, it was guard Kyle Desmarais leading the way for the Stingers with 18 points and seven assists. Despite falling behind by nine points early in the game, Concordia battled back to take a lead into the second quarter and would not trail again in the game.
Concordia faced a quick turnaround from the Laval game and was on the court against UQAM on Saturday. The Stingers jumped out to an early 17-4 lead, and though they let UQAM back into the game, Concordia dominated play for the most part and was never seriously threatened late in the game. Rookie guard Jerome Blake led the Stingers in scoring with 16 points in just 19 minutes coming off the bench.
With five games remaining in the season, Concordia has a six-point lead over second place McGill. Thus far the Stingers have been right on par with coach Dore’s preseason expectations.
“I thought we had a chance to be in first place and I sort of expected to be in first place,” said Dore. “I don’t know if I expected [to be in first by six points]. Our goal right now is to create some distance from the pack.”
Dore has never been one to rest players down the stretch, even if playoff seeding has been determined, but given some tough late season scheduling it is not something that has been ruled out.
Concordia’s next game is this Friday at 8 p.m. against Bishop’s at Loyola.