Déjà Vu for Stingers

ConU Women Lose Hoops Title to McGill for Second Straight Year

  • The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team lost the RSEQ final to the McGill Martlets 51-48 at Love Competition Hall last Saturday. Photo Leslie Schachter

  • The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team lost the RSEQ final to the McGill Martlets 51-48 at Love Competition Hall last Saturday. Photo Leslie Schachter

  • The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team lost the RSEQ final to the McGill Martlets 51-48 at Love Competition Hall last Saturday. Photo Leslie Schachter

As the second of two free throws by McGill guard Marie-Pier Bastrash fell through the net, Keith Pruden found the nearest referee and called a timeout.

Down three points with six seconds left in the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s provincial final, the Stingers’ head coach knew his team still had a chance to tie the game.

All it took was perfect execution on the most important play of their season.

After Pruden huddled the team around him and explained the play he wanted, the players quickly scattered and the referee gave the ball to point guard Ashley Clarke, who inbounded for Concordia.

A few premeditated passes later, the ball found its way to three-point specialist Alex Boudreau in the corner of the court. In control of her team’s destiny, she took a step into a wall of two McGill defenders and made the most important shot of her season.

Sitting on the edge of their seats, each of the 1,023 spectators at Love Competition Hall held their collective breath as the ball rolled off Boudreau’s fingers and into the air towards the net.

But the ball crashed onto the rim and bounced off.

Moments later, the final buzzer sounded. Final score: McGill 51, Concordia 48.

For the second straight year, McGill had bested the Stingers in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec championship game.

For the second straight year, the Stingers could only watch in silence as the Martlets received the RSEQ banner and hoisted the championship trophy with gold medals hanging around their necks.

“We had trouble scoring, we had a lot of open looks but couldn’t put the ball in,” said Pruden. “We lost because we couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”

The statistics showed as much: The Stingers were just 20-for-67 from the field and a measly three-for-24 beyond the three-point line.

Concordia wasn’t much better rebounding the ball, as McGill dominated that category by a mark of 44-25.

“I hope this hurts for the rest of the summer, and every time they go to the gym to shoot all they think about is this game.”
—Rastko Popovic, Stingers Assistant Coach

But even worse for the Stingers, their usual knack for drawing fouls—they entered the game second only to McGill in the conference in free-throw attempts on the season—seemed to disappear at halftime.

“Full credit to McGill for playing good defense […] but we didn’t take a single free throw in the second half—and that is not my team’s fault,” said Pruden. “We were getting hand-checked every single time we would put the ball on the floor and the referees wouldn’t make a call.”

It was a complete turnaround from the beginning of the game for the Stingers, who dominated early as they took a 6-0 lead minutes into the first period.

But that dominance would be short-lived, as turnovers, missed shots and poor rebounding led the Martlets to take a 19-12 lead into the second and a 32-23 lead into the half.

It was much of the same in the third period, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Stingers starting guard and two-time league MVP Kaylah Barrett fouled out seconds into the final frame.
“She feels like she let us down,” said assistant coach Rastko Popovic.

Added Pruden, “It was painful for her, it was painful for the rest of the team—[she’s] a big chunk of our offense.”

Without their star player, Concordia saw rookie forward Marilyse Roy-Viau fill the void as eight of her 18 points would come in the game’s final 10 minutes. But it simply wasn’t enough, as the Stingers were unable to beat a team they had defeated twice in February.

“[The players] put a lot of work into this and I understand their disappointment, but they have to use it as a motivation to train harder in the gym this summer so it doesn’t happen next year,” said Popovic. “I hope this hurts for the rest of the summer, and every time they go to the gym to shoot all they think about is this game.”

The Stingers nonetheless have reason to be proud this year, having gone 11-5 in the regular season, their best mark since going 15-5 in the 1998-99 season—the last time they made nationals.

They also have good reason to remain positive heading into next season, as every player on the team will be returning and more experienced next year.

“We’ll need to step up next season, welcome the new players and together put higher standards so we’ll have more chances to win,” said Roy-Viau.

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