Concordia’s women’s basketball team finished their season on a high note last weekend, knocking off Bishops’ 72-66 and McGill 77-75.
The Stingers sit square in the middle of the Quebec division standings in third place, with Laval and UQAM occupying the top positions and Bishop’s and McGill below.
Friday’s game started out shaky as Bishops’ full court man-to-man press caused Concordia problems on offense.
The Gaiters were double-teaming players, forcing guards into corners and shutting down passing lanes. Concordia was unable to drive to the hoop and had to rely on outside shooting, a tactic that worked to Bishop’s’ advantage as the Stingers shot only 27 per cent in the first half.
Defensively, Concordia allowed the Gaiters to penetrate the key and score easy lay-ups. Stingers captain Stephanie Ramonas had difficulty sizing up to her match-up against the Gaiters’ 6’4″ center Amanda Piribauer., though the frontcourt combination of Heather Eason and Chelsea Cassidy improved the Stingers’ rebounding stats with eleven combined boards. The first half ended with Bishop’s ahead 32-30.
The teams were deadlocked in the opening minutes of the second half as defenders stopped chances at both ends of the floor. The Gaiters’ offence started to exploit Concordia’s slipups with passes that flew right under the Stinger’s noses, often finding open players right under the hoop.
Concordia also stepped up their game, with guard Ebony Morris snagging steals and contributing to a twenty-one-point third quarter. The Gaiters responded by stealing the lead back in less than one minute after initially falling behind by ten points.
As the Gaiters regained the lead, Ramonas went down with a right ankle injury that sidelined her for the rest of the game.
“Stephanie gets so many big defensive plays and so many key rebounds for us that to lose her at the end of a close game is a little scary,” said Stingers head coach Keith Pruden.
Cassidy was chosen to step up to fill the gap. Krystle Douglas also assumed a leadership role, scoring a morale-boosting three pointer. Douglas also took to stealing the ball three times in a row and engineered an impressive behind-the-back save to maintain possession. In the last minute Bishops’ had no choice but to foul the Stingers, whose 81 per cent success rate on free throws did not disappoint. With the victory sealed, Concordia maintained their third place standing with a 72-66 final score.
Concordia 77, McGill 75
A Sunday matinee at McGill gave the Stingers their final win of the regular season 77-75.
“McGill is out of the playoffs, they’re the worst team in the conference and they were playing for pride,” said Pruden.
The Martlets did give Concordia a run for its money however, as McGill’s Catherine Parent scored 35 points, almost half of her team’s total score. Her performance also nabbed her the honour of being the third highest scorer in a single game in Martlet history.
The Martlets pulled ahead early as the Stingers struggled to create any effective offense. McGill was able to penetrate the defense and take easy shots from the key while Concordia was forced to rely on outside shooting.
Concordia did manage to keep pace with the Martlets scoring. Forward Heather Eason scored a three-pointer with seven seconds left to give the Stingers a 37-35 lead at halftime.
It was only at 6:43 when the Stingers scored their first basket of the third quarter. For the next four minutes the team did not fare much better and had to rely on foul shots to generate any points.
The momentum was definitely with McGill as Concordia committed foul after foul and heads on the bench began to droop. Douglas let her emotions get the best of her and took a technical foul for shouting at a referee.
“After getting the technical I decided to take things into my own hands,” she said and she meant it, ending the game with a team-high 26 points.
Morris and Felon Harris made up for the lack of forwards created by Ramonas’ injury, coming down with a team high eight rebounds each.
The lead exchanged hands many times at the end of the game and was only decided in the last minute. The teams were tied and Parent seemed to be an unstoppable scoring force. Cassidy was responding at the other end racking up her fourth three-pointer of the match. In the end it came down to a missed Martlet free throw and Harris sealing the deal with two free throws for a 77-75 victory.
Looking back on the season, Pruden noted that the Stinger’s third-place standing “exceeded a lot of people’s expectations.” The season can be divided up into two distinct sections. Before Christmas break Concordia was 0-4 in league games and since they have been 8-4. Douglas sums up her team attitude as “I think we’re pretty much all ecstatic, we came together after the Christmas break and just worked to get eight wins.”
The stage now moves to UQAM, where the Citadins will host Concordia in the semi final game Wednesday night.