The loudest ovation at Concordia Gym during the Stingers’ 85-71 win over McGill last Saturday, came with the home team leading by 23 points. That’s when a Ben McCarthy block led to a Concordia fast break. Freshman Pierre Thompson pushed the ball up court, made a pair of crowd pleasing behind the back dribbles, and found another freshman, Damian Buckley under the basket for two points.
In the five seconds that it took for the play to unfold, McCarthy, Thompson and Buckley, all in their first year at Concordia, collectively demonstrated why the Stingers never even trailed McGill. Simply put they kept the Redmen from taking an open shot, they moved the ball quickly on offense, and they converted from under the basket.
“They’re such an athletic team and we just watched them play,” said Redmen head coach Craig Norman. “They killed us on the glass and with turnovers. They dictated possession of the ball all game.”
“It all goes back to the defence,” said Rastko Popovic. “We pressed the ball handler and denied the first pass. Once they start looking at their second and third options, it puts them in situations they’re not used to. They either turn the ball over or take bad shots”
Buckley led the Stingers with 18 points and five rebounds. Patrick Perrotte had 17 points, while McCarthy and Chris Blackwood chipped in with 10 points each.
McCarthy provided solid minutes off the bench, as Perrotte, Jamal Gallier and Andre Johnny all experienced early foul trouble. McCarthy, a graduate student and former St. Mary’s Husky, played 27 minutes, second only to Buckley’s 33.
“We’re going to need more of that,” Popovic said of McCarthy’s play. “He needs to take it hard to the basket and dunk it like (in Saturday’s game). We’ve seen that attitude out of him in practice. Now he just has to keep it up.”
The Stingers fast-paced offence has heightened the importance of having a deep bench, as was made evident in Saturday’s win. In addition to McCarthy’s contribution in relief, Thompson came off the bench and scored a career-high nine points to go along with his highlight reel assist.
And in a move rarely seen, Stinger coach John Dore got all 12 of his players into the game in the first half.
“We all work hard in practice and we all have roles on this team,” Thompson said. “When we scrimmage, it’s not just the starters, it’s the bench players too, and we go out and make them better.
The win against McGill leaves Concordia in a first place tie in the QUBL with Bishop’s. Both teams are 3-1 on the season, half a game ahead of 3-2 Laval…
The Stingers top rival from last season took round one in 2005-06, as Laval beat Concordia 83-76 Friday night in Ste. Foy. The Rouge-et-Or’s outside shooting proved to be the difference as Laval was good on 14 three-pointers.
Jean-Michel Leblanc led all scorers with 25 points, including a 5/6 night from beyond the three-point arc. Damian Buckley finished just one rebound shy of a double-double, leading Concordia with 18 points and nine boards.
The Lady Stingers meantime dropped to 0-4 on the season with weekend losses to Laval and McGill. Friday night, Laval cruised past the Stingers 78-29 as Melanie Larocque led Concordia with 16 points. Larocque also had 16 points in the Stingers 68-48 loss to McGill on Saturday.