HALIFAX — The Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team lost 87-47 in their national quarter-final match against the Ryerson Rams at the Scotiabank Centre, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“All of our guys are here for the first time at the nationals and we were a bit nervous,” said Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic.
Popovic, who won the 2018-19 Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) coach of the year, brought the Stingers to their first nationals since 2012. They scored only six points in the first quarter and were down 26-6.
“We started off slow and, against a team like that, you can’t really have a slow start because it’ll put you down like they did,” said fourth-year guard Adrian Armstrong.
Popovic thought the start of the game could have been different if Armstrong had mande a few early shots. Armstrong shot 38 per cent from field goal range and 16 per cent from three-point range in the game.
“I thought we had two good looks to start for Adrian. If you knock those down, then the game could go the other way,” Popovic said.
The low start didn’t discourage Armstrong, who finished with a game-high 19 points. Late in the first half, he was able to knock down a few shots. With 31 seconds left in the second quarter, Armstrong hit a mid-range jumper to give the Stingers a confidence boost. They tied the Rams 15-15 in points in the second quarter, but the score was still 41-21 at halftime.
In the second half, the Rams got off to a hot start, making three of their first four shots and getting on an early 6-1 run. The Stingers didn’t quit and kept trying to find open shots. Concordia was able to penetrate open lanes, but unable to connect on multiple occasions because of Ryerson’s size. Concordia has three players at 6’7”, but Ryerson has five players either the same height or taller.
“Their size and length forced me and others to take shots late in the [shot] clock,” said Armstrong.
Despite the Rams’s size advantage, fifth-year guard Ricardo Monge believes that the Stingers can improve on being aggressive.
“We had many wide open layups and open shots, but we have to make them,” Monge said.
— Concordia Stingers (@The_Stingers) March 9, 2019
Monge finally gets to nationals
In his first appearance at the tournament, Monge finished with 11 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals.
“It’s a great experience to be out here and get to experience this,” said Monge, who was the RSEQ MVP this season. With just over five minutes left in the fourth, he made back-to-back layups and a shot from top of the key to keep his team going.
“I’m very proud of everything [Monge] has accomplished,” said Popovic. “It’s great for him, in his fifth year, to get an opportunity to come here and play at the nationals. He has done so much for the program and it’s just disappointing to come here and to lose a game like this.”
The Stingers lost to the Saint-Mary’s University Huskies, 84-67, Saturday morning in the consolation semi-final at the Scotiabank Centre.
Main photo by Mackenzie Lad.