Men’s Basketball: Revenge of the Stingers
Stingers Bounce Back by Beating Crosstown Rivals McGill Redman 66-56
Behind a strong all-around effort from their veterans, the Concordia Stingers pulled out a 66-56 win against the McGill Redmen Thursday night to avenge their 96-56 loss at McGill back in November.
The John Dore Gym was the site for the second meeting between Concordia and McGill. Long before tip-off, this game had a special feel to it.
It was Concordia’s “Shoot For the Cure” event, a U Sports breast cancer awareness initiative. Both teams wore pink shirts during warmups, and fans in attendance were encouraged to donate for the good cause.
Less importantly, but still very much relevant: It was McGill-Concordia. No matter what, that matchup always means a little more to all coaches and players involved.
The two teams first met all the way back on Nov. 24 where the Redmen absolutely demolished the visiting Stingers. That result, though long in the season’s rearview, was very much on Concordia’s minds.
“Everybody’s talking about that game we lost by 40 in November today,” said Stingers head coach Rastko Popovich. “I told them that’s two and a half months ago and it means absolutely nothing. They had a great night.”
And coach was not lying.
With the Stingers’ men’s hockey team leading the cheer, the basketball team was absolutely up to the task of playing the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec’s top team. They answered every McGill scoring run, and did a good job of protecting their own larger leads on the rare occasion they’d have one.
With 6:24 to play in the fourth quarter and the Stingers up 53-48, the Redmen had the ball with the shot clock quickly approaching zero. At the very last possible second, McGill guard Dele Ogundokun hoisted up a desperation three pointer into heavy traffic, and somehow got it to fall.
“We held them to 56 points, and they’re in first place.” —Concordia Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic.
That easily could have been a big enough of a back breaking possession to give up, as well as an invigorating enough shot to ignite them back into the lead.
But that was just not to be. Veteran Stinger guard Ken Beaulieu immediately returned the favour on the other end, dropping an end of shot clock three pointer that really just about sealed the deal for Concordia. From that point on, the Stingers outscored McGill 10-5 en route to their biggest win of the year
The usual suspects—Beaulieu and forward Schneiders Suffrard—both finished in double digits for scoring, dropping 15 and 14 points respectively. Point guard Ricardo Monge had a great game as well, putting in 12 points to go along with his six assists and five rebounds.
For Monge, however, it was his defence that really set the tone for this entire game.
“I try to stay with the guy and not let him get much space,” said Monge. “I guess after a while of playing defence, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way that help me out.”
The entire game was played at an absolutely frantic pace, with neither team really grasping full control. But, the Stingers were able to force 26 turnovers and pull down 20 defensive rebounds.
In a game as tight as this one, it was a strong defense that allowed Concordia to gain some separation towards the end, and avoid any last second drama from the talented McGill side.
“We held them to 56 points, and they’re in first place,” said Popovic. “We just executed our defensive game plan for the most part, we made some mistakes but I thought that because of their aggressiveness and intensity.”
“McGill is one of the best offensive rebounding teams and we kept them to seven.”
It was that limiting of second chance opportunities that allowed Concordia to get it done against their rival.
The Stingers will not have much time to celebrate their win, while McGill won’t have to wait very long for a chance to get their revenge. They get right back to action against the very same Redmen on Saturday at the Love Competition Hall.
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