The basketball season officially began last Friday when both the Stingers men’s and women’s basketball teams headed into hostile territory to face off against the Bishop’s Gaiters.
Turnovers and bad defensive play were too much for the Stingers women’s basketball team, who lost 55-41 to the Bishop’s University Gaiters.
Both teams came out cold in the opening quarter, really cold. Neither Bishop’s nor Concordia could find any offensive rhythm as four minutes passed by without a basket from either team. The first quarter closed with both the Stingers and Gaiters looking like defensive aces and Bishop’s holding a 6-4 lead.
The second quarter saw both teams score in double digits, thus making the scoreboard look more like that of a basketball game and less like that of a hockey match. Stingers forward Laurence Mathieu-Léger gave her team a slim one-point lead when she hit a ten foot jumpshot early in the quarter. It would be Concordia’s only lead of the game however, as Bishop’ rattled off fourteen points to lead 20-15 at halftime.
“We had a specific gameplan and we did not follow it at all,” said center Heather Eason. “We need to understand everyone’s position and understand how our teammates work [within those positions] and where the open man is.”
Concordia seemed to miss the presence of captain Stephanie Ramonas, out with an ankle injury. The Stingers offence struggled mightily in the first half, shooting only 16 per cent from the floor and hitting only five of 30 shots.
“The kids got frazzled and frustrated and that prevented us from focusing on what we were trying to do offensively,” said Stingers head coach Keith Pruden. “We weren’t getting any kind of transition nor any kind of decent execution in the front court, and if that happens then it gets very hard to score.”
Bishop’s began to pull away in the third quarter, adding 23 points and limiting the Stingers to just 12. Concordia’s defence, while shutting down Bishop’s in the paint, gave up too many open looks for the Gaiters shooters to take advantage of. Conversely, the Gaiters’ defenders continued to lock onto Concordia starting guard Krystle Douglas. Last year’s scoring leader, Douglas was held to just one basket in the game on 14 attempts.
“Defence is what wins games,” said forward Chelsea Cassidy. “You’ve got to put up your point of course, but as long as you stop them from putting up theirs then that’s what’s going to win you the game.”
Concordia’s struggles continued into the final quarter. The Gaiters players were able to use their size advantage to dominate the glass and increase their lead to 19 points with six minutes left, their largest lead in the game. Forcing the Stingers to commit to shooting the ball, Bishop’s succeeded in creating 17 turnovers in the process. While Concordia had managed the same number, Bishop’s was able to convert 11 points off of their turnovers while the Stingers gained only six. In a low scoring game such as this the advantage ultimately went to the Gaiters, who finished the game with a 55-41 victory.
“I think that we’re still coming together as a team,” said Eason. “It’s early in the season and we’re still learning.one of the things we need to work on is our defence, that needs to be our main goal and our offence will just go along and develop with it.”
Eason finished with six points and five rebounds, while captain Ebony Morris led the Stingers with a double double, knocking in 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
On the defensive side, Concordia failed to register a single block and will need to find a quick fix early with a shortened road schedule looming this week. The Stingers will have a few days of practice before Thursday’s 6 p.m. tilt at McGill and then they will head to Quebec City for a game against the undefeated Laval Rouge et Or.
The Gaiters and their fans provided the wild atmosphere and a thrilling finish, but Concordia’s men’s basketball team managed to come out on top in a tightly fought 65-63 victory.
Playing in their first game of their 2007/2008 campaign, the Stingers came into Lennoxville to face a hot Gaiters squad, winners of their first two regular season games. Concordia managed to cool Bishop’s off fairly quickly, jumping out to a 20-7 lead in the first quarter. The Stingers’ plan to pressure the Gaiters shooters worked early on, as Bishop’s closed the opening quarter with a 25-11 deficit.
The Gaiters began to wake up in the second quarter, creeping within ten points of the Stingers’ lead. Following a three point shot by Gaiter Doug McCooeye, Stingers center Jamal Gallier and guard Pierre Thompson got into a shoving match with the entire Bishop’s team after one of their players fouled Gallier. That got the fans going, and jeers for Gallier and Thompson rained down throughout the rest of the game everytime either player touched the basketball.
Feeding off the home crowd’s energy the Gaiters hung around throughout the rest of the half, forcing turnovers and outscoring the Stingers 18-11. After the ball out to Stinger Paget Berridge for a three point score, Bishop’s Jordan Winnett answered right back with a three of his own to keep the score at 36-29 heading into the half.
“We probably had 11 turnovers in the second quarter, that’s 22-plus potential points,” said head coach John Dore. “We gave them some chances and gave them confidence to get back into the game and get their fans behind them.”
The Gaiters continued to hang around in the third quarter. Owning up to his jersey number, Bishop’s No. 23 Winnett sunk a deep three. On the next Singers possession his teammate Damon Anderson stole the ball and passed to guard Andrew Wright for an easy lay-in. The Stingers offence stalled again on the next play with a shot clock violation, allowing Bishop’s to close their deficit to a single basket.
Bishop’s run didn’t faze the Stingers, who kept going to their big men. After sinking two free throws amidst a deafening noise provided by the Gaiters fans, Gallier followed up by rising above the defenders to a loose ball, tipping it in the basket.
Throughout most of the game Gallier dominated the boards, hauling in ten rebounds in to go with his 16 points for a team-leading double-double performance. His defensive presence made a big impact on the smaller Bishop’s team, allowing teammates to harass their shooters during two third quarter possessions when the Gaiters could have taken the lead.
“We have a lot of weapons, but we tried to get the ball inside because we felt that I could take it against these guys and create open shots for my teammates,” said Gallier.
The Buckley Effect
Trading shots with Bishop’s into the final quarter, Dore sent in Damian Buckley, who had sat out through most of the team’s CIS and NCAA preseason tours with a knee injury sustained on Oct. 5. After being medically cleared to play two days earlier, he came into the game and went 4-6, hitting nine of his team’s last 15 points in the game, including a textbook fadeaway jumpshot that slapped O’s on the Bishop’s fans’ mouths.
“We only found out yesterday from the doctor that he was okay to play,” said Dore.
With a 55-51 advantage at the five-minute mark Concordia defence had to keep a lid on Emmanuel Junior Nicholas, the Gaiters’ leading scorer.
“We knew that Junior had been having some good games, hitting 30 and 20 in the last two games so we wanted to focus a lot on him,” said guard Levi Vann.
Though he led in scoring with 17 points, Junior had to watch the final two minutes from the bench. Vann, on the other hand, was able to make a decisive impact in the game to go along with his 12 points. After a Buckley jumper put Concordia back on top 64-63, he made the steal of the game, giving the ball to Gallier who drew the foul and sunk a free throw with ten seconds left. On Bishop’s final possession Winnett could not call up any more of his Airness’s mojo, missing to the right the three-pointer that could have won his team the game.
Following the final buzzer the disappointed Gaiters fans still wanted to chirp Gallier, who simply responded “guard me.”
“They were after me the whole game so I made sure that I had my own say at the end, but it’s all part of the game,” said a grinning Gallier.
The Stingers will travel to McGill for an 8 p.m. game this Thursday before heading to Laval on Saturday. Concordia plays their first home game against the UQAM Citadins on Nov. 30.