Sluggish Stingers Still Perfect

After Two-Hour Delay, ConU Stick to Winning Ways

Photos by Amanda Laprade

Concordia 68 UQAM 63

After a two-hour delay to tipoff, Concordia’s men’s basketball team overcame some sluggish play and extended their unbeaten streak in conference play to 5-0, beating the Université du Québec à Montréal Citadins 68-63.

Start time was scheduled for 4:00 p.m., but during the warm-ups one UQAM player made a highlight-reel dunk, shattering the backboard at the Loyola Gym. The game got underway after a replacement was installed, but it was easy to see the delay had left the Stingers moving a step slower. They weren’t the only ones, however.

“That major delay killed it for both of us,” said UQAM head coach Olga Hrycak. “It was normal that the beginning would be a little sluggish. You try to get your adrenaline going, but there is no way you can emulate the same kind of enthusiasm at the original beginning of a game.”

Despite Hrycak’s comments, however, once the game got underway, the Citadins jumped out to an early lead as they seemed unable to miss anything from the field.

They made ball movement difficult for the Stingers by employing a full-court press that created numerous turnovers and missed shots.

The Stingers came roaring back in the second quarter, however, taking the lead on the back of some energizing play by rookie Jerome Blake in his first start for Concordia.

His speed and agility offered the Stingers a more reliable scoring option to break the Citadins’ defense. Their improved defensive play created a more up-tempo game, and the Stingers took advantage after that, leading 34-30 at the half.

Blake scored 12 points, one of only two Stingers to finish with double digits.

“Before the game, coach talked to me and he gave me confidence to go out there and do what I needed to do. I started off slow in the first quarter but I came back,” said Blake.

The Citadins came out in the second half determined to break their losing streak against the Stingers and kept the game close.

The intensity also led to some physical play from both teams, generating many foul calls, with both teams missing few shots from the free throw line.

As the lead was disappearing again in the fourth, back-to-back baskets from Stingers forward Evens La Roche—who led all scorers with 17 points—stopped the Citadins’ comeback.

Though the game ended with a win, the Stingers were dissatisfied with the quality of their play, stressing their need to take care of the ball and rebound more effectively as the Citadins out-rebounded Concordia while also forcing 26 Stingers turnovers.

“We still have to prove a point [nationally], so winning by one is just winning a game. We just cannot do that. We have to be able to win games by 20 or 30 points,” said La Roche.

“Our decision-making has to improve for us to really be a national contender,” said head coach John Dore. “Not only with turnovers—because at the end we had a couple of quick shots we did not need.”

The Stingers’ next game is at home against the McGill Redmen on Saturday, Jan. 21. Tipoff’s scheduled for 4:00 p.m.