The Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team dismissed the Laval Rouge et Or in their first home game of the season on Thursday night winning 90-62. Concordia is now undefeated with two wins and no losses.
Laval caught the Stingers off guard, starting the game with five quick points. But the Stingers stayed in the game and picked out their opportunities to regain the lead.
Kafil Eyitayo inspired the Stingers’ run to take the lead when he assertively blocked a Rouge et Or player’s shot, energizing the crowd and his teammates. Eyitayo later received a pass from point guard Adam Chmielewski to score the go-ahead layup and give Concordia their first lead with less than a minute to go in the opening quarter.
“It was a home opener, it meant a lot for us,” said Eyitayo. “Coaches told us to come hard in this game and it will set the tone for the rest of the year, and that’s what we did.”
This was the only lead-change of the game, as the Stingers dominated their opponents and extended their advantage after every quarter.
“We came out with a sense of urgency,” said Chmielewski. “Unlike last game against UQÀM, we came out with a better defensive energy.”
The Rouge et Or changed their defensive tactics several times to stop the onslaught of Concordia’s offense. In the second quarter, Concordia saw Laval play zone defense and unexpected full-court pressing, both of which the Stingers easily broke down, leading to open shots and layups.
Despite a buzzer beater breakaway dunk at the end of the first half and overall dominant performance by the Stingers, Laval was still in the game, losing only 46-34.
It was in the first three minutes of the second half where it became clear the Stingers were going to win, and win big. Evens Laroche, reigning MVP of the league, opened the scoring in the third quarter sparking an 11-2 Concordia run, quickly creating a 21-point gap between the teams.
“This isn’t a one-man team,” said Laroche. “This is what makes us a strong team. We have many players who can contribute.”
The Stingers went on to win the third quarter by outscoring Laval 23-11, extending their lead to 22 points. In the fourth quarter, an alley-oop to Jean-Andre Moussignac made it an inconceivable 30 point deficit for the Rouge et Or to overcome with two minutes left to play.
Last time these two teams met, the Stingers barely edged out a one point win in the conference semi-finals.
Head coach John Dore pointed to the improved defense to explain Thursday’s largely improved performance.
“We played great team defense, limited their three point shooting,” said Dore. “Offensively we’re more in sync now. That chemistry takes time to develop, but we’re getting there.”
On Saturday night, the Stingers squared off against the Bishop’s Gaiters at Bishop’s University. The home team had a 10-point lead with three minutes to go. Concordia pulled off a great comeback, winning the game 77-76. The Stingers were down five with 11 seconds to go, but Evens Laroche scored five straight points to rob Bishop’s of the win.
The Stingers will try to stay undefeated when they face the McGill Redmen this Saturday, Nov. 24 at 4 p.m. The game will be played at Concordia Gymnasium inside the Athletic Complex.