Despite nearly squandering an 18-point third quarter lead, Concordia Stingers were able to hold off the UQAM Citadins and secure 73-68 victory.
“UQAM played very hard for the whole game” said Stingers head coach Keith Pruden. “We backed off defensively. We started giving them easy scoring opportunities and we seemed surprised when they took advantage of them. We weren’t very alert in the third quarter mentally.”
After an impressive display of effective ball movement, stingy defense and an overall sense of urgency the Stingers were able to build a sizeable 47-29 lead three minutes into third quarter.
Then it all fell apart.
Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. The Stingers appeared relaxed and somewhat overconfident, not caring to do the simple things that helped them build their lead in the first place.
Gone was the defensive intensity and offensive aggressiveness that characterized their first half play. They were replaced with ineptitude and overall complacency, which led to severe lack of execution on both ends of the floor. Concordia simply lost their edge and their opponents where very quick to capitalize on this.
The Citadins team that emerged in the second half of the third quarter onwards was a completely different one than was seen in the first half of the game.
Thanks to a series of careless Stingers turnovers, they were able to get out into transition for easy baskets. When they weren’t getting out into the open court, they were winning the battles in the paint, thanks to the inspired play of UQAM forward Emie Simard, who had 20 points and four rebounds in the contest. This allowed the Citadins to cut an 18-point deficit down to a mere seven points within a matter of three minutes.
And to make matters worse, Stingers star guard Kaylah Barrett was elbowed above the eye and had to leave the game.
As the buzzer signaling the end of the third quarter sounded, the Stingers held a very slim 54-50 advantage.
It was only in the game’s closing moments that Concordia demonstrated why they were the second best team in Quebec. Up until that point, the quarter had been a seesaw battle that saw the Citadins desperately trying to take the lead while the Stingers were fighting just as hard to keep it.
UQAM continued to outplay Concordia, especially on the offensive end, but unlike the third quarter the home team showed some resilience and demonstrated the sense of urgency that had put it in such a favorable position earlier.
The game’s pivotal moment came with a little under a minute remaining, and the Stingers were only up 70-68.
That is when Barrett, who had just recently returned from her injury, made a huge pass deflection at half-court, allowing the Stingers to regain possession and thus forcing UQAM to foul, effectively putting the game on ice.
The Stingers would eventually win by a score of 73-68.
“I’m pleased with the fact we regained our composure,” said Pruden. “I just wish it hadn’t taken so long.”
With the victory the Stingers improve to 7-5 and remain in second place in the RSEQ standings.
Next up for Concordia is a date with the Laval Rouge-et-Or at home, this Friday at 8 p.m.