Riddled by injuries in the past weeks, the Stingers went from a team drawing attention nationally to a team hovering near .500, battling for a home playoff game.
With the third place Bishop’s Gaiters visiting on Friday night, Concordia came out playing quality basketball and turned in its largest margin of victory this season, with a 71-40 win.
The Stingers built up a 13-point lead in the first half, but Concordia watched a halftime lead of the exact same margin dissipate last week in a loss to Laval.
Coach Keith Pruden was determined to keep his team from befalling the same fate against Bishop’s. “I told the team [at half] it’s the same [lead] we had against Laval last week and that we had to maintain the intensity level we had in the first half and we just had to execute a little bit better and we did both those things,” he said. “I’m very happy with [the team’s] effort.”
Concordia held Bishop’s to just 15 points in the final half, including a fourth quarter in which the Stingers outscored their opponents 21-6, sealing the game with an exclamation mark.
Guard Kaylah Barrett, who has been battling thumb and lower-back injuries and struggling mightily lately, broke out of her slump, scoring 19 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists.
“I’m busted up everywhere but I just try and play through it,” said Barrett, who has not been participating in full-speed drills in practice.
Concordia dominated Bishop’s statistically, outrebounding the Gaiters 53-34 and forcing 26 turnovers, while only turning the ball over 15 times themselves.
“We played with a lot of heart compared with the other games [during the losing streak],” said Concordia guard Magalie Beaulieu, who was second in scoring for the Stingers with 11 points. “Other nights we let teams back in the game, but tonight we played better defence and offence and with much more heart,” she said.
With the win, Concordia remains in sole possession of second place with a record of 7-5, which would give them at least one home playoff game in the first round of RSEQ playoffs, but will be jockeying with Bishop’s (5-7) for the coveted two-seed the rest of the season.
The Stingers will also continue to be without Natasha Raposo, one of the team’s best perimeter shooters, who is out with an injury. The team will be forced to move forward though, as they hope to build momentum going into the playoffs.
Concordia’s next game is a rematch with Bishop’s this Friday night, on the road at 6 p.m.