Concordia 68, McGill 67: Stingers Men’s Basketball Grinds Out Win at Home
Oge Nwoko Sinks Clutch Free Throws to Defeat McGill
With the game on the line, down a point, and 15 seconds left on the clock, there’s a strong chance you’d begin to fidget. But Stingers guard Oge Nwoko sent McGill home without breaking a sweat on Thursday.
“No, I don’t think I felt any pressure,” said the third-year starter after the game. “We practice these free throws all the time, it’s the only time in basketball where you get that, a free shot. And I felt once I made the first one, the second one was even less pressure.”
Knocking both shots down at the line, Nwoko secured Concordia’s first win of the year against McGill.
It was a gritty win for the Stingers. Both teams combined for 34 turnovers and seemed to have difficulty getting a good rhythm in the game. The last 1:51 of the fourth quarter caused a frenzy of cheers and screams from the crowd. Down 65-64 after Olivier Simon went two four two from the line, Concordia needed to make a play.
After a missed three pointer from McGill’s Sam Jenkins, Stingers guard Cedric “Batman” Coriolan—who played with a broken nose—brought up the ball with defender JJ Hamel-Carey draped all over him. In a swift right to left dribble, Coriolan left him out to dry, as Carey slipped just across half court.
The crowd erupted. As the play continued, Coriolan swung the ball to Nwoke, who without hesitation, made a bounce pass to Sami Jahan. He drove right down the middle of the lane and finished an acrobatic layup to give Concordia the lead.
Playing a career-high 38 minutes, the freshman says the basket was huge.
“That’s actually a move I worked on in the summer. Kinda the first time it played out in a game. I just went up in the air, manoeuvred my way to the basket and it dropped. It was really a good moment,” he said.
While Stingers all star guard Adrian Armstrong is still suffering from injury, Jahan is embracing the minutes and making the most of it.
Scoring a team-high 17 and adding five assists, Jahan was all over the court and head coach Rastko Popovic believes his rookie point guard is ready to make a difference.
“He wasn’t scared, he was given an opportunity and he really stepped up […] We feel like he can be a really good player at this level and I think he showed that last night,” Popovic said.
“I’m very pleased with his effort and it looks great. He was the [team’s] leading scorer and we were able to pull out a tight win,” he finished.
Jahan’s tough bucket was followed by Hamel-Carey’s strong take to the rim, putting his team up 67-66, with 40 seconds left in the game. Hamel-Carey led all scorers with 18 points. He was a force for McGill along with 6’5” sophomore Quarry Whyne, who had 13 points and five rebounds.
For Popovic, he understands his team’s 21 turnovers are striking. However, he’s satisfied with the effort his guys put on the floor, as the team continues to perform despite injuries.
“We outrebounded them, we had more assists, we got to the foul line more, we shot the three better. So it was overall for us, it was a good win and I like how our guys competed […] Guys knew they had to step up and I think they really did that,” he said.
The Stingers will now travel to McGill on Jan. 25, where they had their win streak snapped. With both teams at three losses on the year, Nwoko says the Stingers will have an important task to accomplish if they want a favorable result: protect the ball.
“We went over what was the cause of these turnovers, why we couldn’t get the ball inside. I think as long as we cut down the turnovers I think next game it should go more smoothly,” said Nwoko.