Concordia 82, Acadia 75: Women’s Basketball Closes Out Preseason With Win

Strong Defensive Effort Pushes Stingers to Victory

Stingers end preseason strong with a victory under their belt. Photo Emanuele Barbier

Concordia’s women’s basketball team picked up their second win of the preseason in Sunday’s game against Acadia, and it could not have come at a more pivotal time.

With the Stingers set to start conference play in just two weeks, head coach Tenicha Gittens said “it’s good for the girls…it just gives us a little bit of momentum going into the season [and] into conference games.”

The Stingers started the game well, moving the ball well on offence but it was the defence that made the difference, as the Stingers recorded 12 steals in the game.

This was a stark change from their game on Friday against Carleton, where the team failed to get stops and allowed their opponents to get into a rhythm early.

Sophomore guard Areej Burgonio was instrumental in setting the tone on defence, notching four steals, tied with teammate Caroline Task.

The 2019 Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec all-rookie guard was active in the passing lanes early in the game, using her speed and defensive instincts to disrupt the Axewomen’s offence.

“Defence is everything to us, it starts everything. Defence fuels our offence, when we get stops, we can push the ball up the floor and just get easy buckets,” said Burgonio.

With the shot clock unplugged in the first, Burgonio picked off an errant Acadia pass at the halfway line and raced to the basket, beating the Axewomen and the buzzer to put up the layup and give the Stingers a 24-11 lead to end the quarter.

Despite only making two of their 10 three-pointers in the first half, the Stingers found success offensively by taking the ball to the rim in the half-court and after steals on fast breaks, putting the Axewomen’s interior defence to the test.

Forward Nikita Telesford was a presence in the paint in the first half. The fourth-year Pickering Ontario native, who is playing her first season with the Stingers, is coming into her own as part of the team and provides a strong presence in the post for Concordia.

“I knew coming in what my role was and I knew how I was going to fulfill it. Obviously, it takes some time to adjust but now that I’m adjusted, I think that we have all the right pieces to move forward and really make some noise in this conference” said Telesford.

Telesford was a handful for Acadia, shooting six free throws in the half as the Axewomen struggled to stop the Stingers without fouling. The forward scored 14 of her 19 points in the first quarter, pushing Concordia to a 67-47 lead at halftime.

In the second half, the Stingers struggled to replicate the same free flowing offensive prowess they showed in the first and had to rely on their defence and hustle plays to see them through to the end of the game.

The Axewomen came into the second half shooting well. With wing Jayda Veinot and guard Haley McDonald scoring 14 and 13 points respectively in the second half.

After McDonald hit two free-throws to cut the lead to just three points with 1:21 to go in the fourth quarter, it looked like momentum had swung in the direction of the Axewomen.

Second-year guard Myriam Leclerc patiently probed the defence, drawing the attention of the Axewomen’s defence just long enough to pass the ball to Task—who had a game-high 22 points, four steals and two assists—capitalizing on a backdoor cut and score to put the Stingers up by five.

After an Axewomen miss, the Stingers were looking to close out the game, but missed the shot. Telesford was able to chase the ball and grab the rebound, creating another possession for the Stingers with just nine seconds to go.

“Sometimes you’re just going to have to get down and dirty and grind out a win,” said Gittens after the game about Telesford’s crucial rebound.

“That’s why I talk about toughness, it’s extremely important …going and grabbing rebounds and refusing to be boxed out and getting those extra possessions those are really important things to do” Gittens finished.

Despite their lackluster preseason results, the Stingers are still looking to compete in the RSEQ this year, taking it one step at a time.

“[We want to] win every possession, every game, one game at a time. First RSEQ and hopefully nationals and be back in the top four. Obviously, we’re not 100 per cent healthy but still gotta give everything.” Burgonio said.

The Stingers begin their push at the home opener on Sunday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m.