Women lose back-to-back games against #1 seed Rouge et Or
The men’s team entered the game with high motivation after suffering a tough loss earlier in the week against Laval. The Stingers led by 14 points in the third quarter, but the Rouge et Or came back to win.
The Stingers looked to continue their winning streak at home and extend their conference-leading 8-2 record. Laval and Concordia began the game with a back-and-forth struggle, as both teams traded baskets throughout the first half.
Despite scoring 23 points in each the first and second quarter, Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic said his team could have played much better. “I thought we didn’t play well at all in the first half,” Popovic said.
These high expectations for his team is one of the many factors that has led to the winning record for the Stingers this season. The Stingers methodically followed their game plan in the second half. The ball movement from the starters to the reserves is what allowed the Stingers to slowly wear down their opponent as they forced 14 turnovers, which led to 16 points scored all game.
In contrast, Concordia only had seven giveaways the entire game. By the end of the third quarter, the Stingers held their largest lead of the game with seven points and in the fourth, their consistency on both ends was too much for Laval.
One of the game’s brightest stars was forward Aleks Simeunovic. After suffering a knee injury a year ago, he returned with the team this season and made an instant contribution. His two three-pointers came in the second half, one of which was at the end of the third quarter, giving the Stingers a huge momentum boost.
Simeunovic attributes his performance to the trust his team had in him during his recovery and return to the court. “[It] feels really good to be back out there again and playing,” he said. “My teammates have my back and the biggest thing is that they believe in me. They trusted me, so when I get on the court, it’s just easy to do my thing.”
The camaraderie on this team has been apparent from the beginning of the season. Both the coaches and players understand the importance of that bond as the playoffs approach.
“We keep stressing with our guys everyday in practice that we don’t care who shoots–we want good shots and it showed tonight,” Popovic said. With five games remaining in the regular season, the Stingers look forward to continuing their success.
The Rouge et Or remained undefeated all season, entering the game with an 8-0 record, while the Stingers’s was 7-3. With McGill in hot pursuit of the second seed in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) behind Concordia, this game held extreme significance for the Stingers.
The game began with the Rouge et Or establishing their dominance in the paint. They took advantage of their taller centres and forwards to force switches with screens and dominate in front of the basket.
The Stingers struggled in the first quarter with turnovers and rebounds, allowing Laval to jump to an early 24-11 lead. The Stingers came back strong in the second, rallying behind Myriam Leclerc who scored a game-high 17 first-half points.
Midway through the second quarter, the Stingers had put together a 10-4 run by using their quickness to get steals. Stingers guard Elise Roy fought hard at both ends, supplying the kind of energy the Stingers needed to claw their way back into the game.
With the lead cut to seven in the second quarter, Laval responded with a 14-7 run of their own, ending the half with a 48-24 lead. The second half began the way the game started, with Laval using their good ball movement, keeping the Stingers guessing. Their good strategies began to open up easy opportunities from the outside, as Laval made all four of the three-point shots they took in the second half.
By the end of the third, Laval held a 19-point lead. The fourth quarter saw what the Stingers could bring as they opened with a quick 8-0 run, cutting the lead to 11 points. The Stingers forced 17 turnovers in the game and continued to play tough defence down the stretch. Although Concordia scored most of their points in the fourth quarter, Laval was able to match their opponents with 20 points in the quarter.
Despite the tough loss, the Stingers remain in second place in the conference.
Both the men and women play a home-and-home series against the Université de Québec à Montréal Citadins next weekend.
Main photo by Clare Redman.