The Stingers inability to play a full 40 minutes hurt them in Sunday’s 77-65 loss to the Vermont Catamounts in Burlington, VM.
In what is quickly becoming a disturbing trend, Concordia watched a nine-point lead disappear thanks to a sluggish end to the first 20 minutes, combined with an apparent lack of focus to start the second.
After a Rastko Popovic three-point basket gave Concordia a 26-17 lead with 9:42 remaining in the first half, the Stingers were good on just two field goals before the intermission. The Cats capitalized with a 15-4 run to go into the locker room with a 32-30 edge.
“We still felt that we were in control going into the second, but we let up in the first few minutes,” said Dwayne Buckley. “It’s been the same story every game. We have to find a way to correct that.”
Vermont’s strong finish to the first half carried over into the second, as was the case for Davidson College and the University of Georgia, during Concordia’s first leg of their U.S. trip. Vermont’s strong finish to the first half carried over into the second. The Cats outscored the Stingers 15-2 in the first five minutes, giving the home team a 47-32 lead.
“It went from being a two point game, to all of a sudden, we’re trying to come back from double digits, and that’s hard to do,” said Popovic, one of three Stingers to finish with 14 points. “Even in this game, we give up a 13-point run, and then we lose by 12. That explains it right there. It’s like coach said, we can’t just play 35 minutes.”
Joining Popovic with 14 points for Concordia, were senior forward Patrick Perrotte, and freshman point-guard Damian Buckley.
Martin Klimes led UVM with 18 points, before a crowd of 2,514 at Patrick Gym.
Concordia’s nine-point lead was its largest against any of its American opponents, but foul trouble kept the Stingers from pulling away. Perrotte, Jamal Gallier, Andre Johnny, and Ben McCarthy collected at least two fouls each in the first half, leading coach ,John Dore, to implement a low-risk, ball-control offense.
“Because all of our post players were in foul trouble, we had to shorten the game,” said coach Dore. “We didn’t really have a choice. We tried to take the officials out of the game, and to be down just two at the half, given our foul trouble, I thought was pretty good.”
On four straight possessions, Concordia brought the 35-second shot clock down to three ticks or less. Of the four trips, the Stingers made just one basket, while missing a field goal and twice turning the ball over.
“When we played well at the start, we were running. That’s our game,” said Dwayne Buckley. “Once we had to slow it down, that’s not our game anymore.”
With the loss, Concordia concluded its pre-season schedule with a 4-11 record, including an 0-7 mark against U.S. Division I schools.
The Stingers regular season home opener goes this Friday against the UQAM Citadins. Tip-off is at 6p.m. at Loyola Gym.
Prior to Sunday’s loss at Vermont, Concordia dropped a 106-49 decision at second-ranked Connecticut. The Stingers also lost 98-62 at Virginia.
Patrick Perrotte remains Concordia’s leading scorer averaging 15.9 points per game.
Friday’s opposition, the UQAM Citadins, are 1-0 in conference play after an 80-63 win over Bishop’s last Saturday.
Concordia is a perfect 8-0 against the Citadins, since they joined the Quebec University Basketball League for the 2003-04 season. The first 250 fans in attendance at Friday’s home opener will receive a Stingers basketball team poster.