Stinger women tighten grip on second

Cooler heads and a deeper bench prevailed as the Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team continued their winning ways last Saturday at the Concordia Gym, solidly beating the McGill Martlets 70-52, and tightening their grip on second place.
Although Concordia has dominated McGill this season, the Martlets’ trademark fast-paced, high-octane style of play has the ability to turn the tamest of crowds into raving fanatics, while giving fits to their opponents.
The danger for the Stingers was to fall into that trap, but the team kept their heads firmly on their shoulders and imposed their skills on the weaker team.
“We’re a deeper team than McGill,” stated Stingers head coach Keith Pruden. “We were able to wear them down physically.”
Physical endurance was certainly a factor, as both teams ran up and down the court at a furious pace right from the opening tip-off.
After a wild start that saw erratic play from both sides, the Stingers called a time-out five minutes into the game to calm things down and discuss taking control of the game.
Strong moves to the basket and dominance on the boards led to an early 14-9 lead for the home team, and prompted McGill to take a time-out of their own.
Despite the break, the game continued to be a wild one, with flashy plays such as a nice give-and-go between Stinger guards Valerie Bain and Marie-Pier Veilleux, and an impressive defence-splitting drive to the hoop by guard Tanya Monuma.
Despite several turnovers by Concordia, they managed to stay on top because of strong defensive pressure which forced several embarrassing air-balls by McGill, and the Stingers wrapped up the first half with a 38-28 advantage.
The up-tempo pace of the second half produced more explosive plays at both ends, while the crowd interaction continued to escalate.
When what seemed to be an offensive foul on McGill was actually called a defensive foul on Concordia guard Pascale Morin, the vocal home crowd rose to its feet and let its considerable dissatisfaction be known.
Meanwhile, a burst of inspiration from McGill’s star guard Maude Vallieres, which included a behind the back pass under the basket and a clutch three-pointer, helped close the gap to two points.
The Stingers didn’t seem too worried though, as they buckled down and countered the Martlets’ frenzied energy with more mature and controlled play.
Two crucial baskets by Stinger guard Jennifer Neill seemed to take the wind out of the Martlets’ sails, and an imposing presence in the paint by Concordia’s Kristine Steinfort, as well as strong overall play by the rest of the team sealed the McGill’s fate.
While Pruden was none too pleased with McGill’s comeback, he was pleased by the final outcome.
“I was irritated that they came back to within two points, but I wasn’t worried.
“They had to play their two stars for the entire second half to make that
comeback, while I could play the bench and send my starters back in fresh,” he said.
Indeed, exhaustion took its toll on Vallieres, who had tried to carry the entire McGill team on her shoulders in the second half, while Concordia racked up another convincing victory and looked to be in strong form heading into the playoffs.

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