Stingers 74, Timberwolves 67: Stingers win their first game of the Concordia Classic

Stingers narrowly survive UNBC’s 27-point fourth quarter comeback attempt

Stingers guard Jaheem Joseph goes against Timberwolves guard Justin Sunga. Photo Joys Sekpon

The Concordia Stingers escaped an impressive late-game comeback attempt from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) Timberwolves during their first game of the Concordia Classic on Oct. 6 at the John Dore court.

Head coach Rastko Popovic said the close final score of 74-67 in favour of the Stingers was owed to missed opportunities on the defensive end.

"We had them committing turnovers and we still weren't scoring," he said. "So we were wasting a lot of good defensive possessions [by] coming up empty on the other side.”

The Stingers came out firing in the first quarter, pushing the fast break every opportunity they had. The defence remained energized and the offence kept ball movement fluid. Starting guard Jaheem Joseph established himself early on both ends of the floor, racking up a pair of steals and attacking the rim on offence. 

Heading into the second quarter, the Timberwolves picked up the pace, scoring at-will in the paint with creative post moves from the centers on UNBC’s side. The Stingers struggled to score, though rookie forward Karam Sahly set many great screens during the quarter. 

“[Sahly’s] a rookie [so] he’s adjusting to the physicality and style of play, but I think he’s very coachable and he's gonna have a bright future with us,” said Stingers guard Alec Phaneuf. Sahly grabbed two offensive rebounds in his starting role. 

After the second quarter ended with a demoralizing steal and breakaway dunk for UNBC, the Stingers led 29-24 going into the third quarter. However, the Stingers quickly extended their lead with lights-out shooting and more all-around value from Joseph, who had a 21-point and ten-rebound double-double. “You can see the reaction from the bench every time he scores. [We’re] all hyped up,” Phaneuf said. 

Concordia led 56-40 going into the fourth. This edge deflated into a mere nine-point lead with three minutes left in the contest due to more post-scoring and three-point buckets from the Timberwolves. 

After a four-point play from UNBC, the lead was cut to just five points. However, the Stingers kept their cool and point guard Alec Phaneuf iced the game with two clutch free throws to end the night at 74-67.  

“We let them score 27 points in the fourth quarter,” said Popovic. “That is just unacceptable [...] we cannot allow teams to come back when we have a double-digit lead”

Though victorious, UNBC’s slew of points in the fourth quarter slightly dulled the spirits of the winning team. “At the end of the day we gotta execute further down the stretch,” said Popovic.

The Stingers also won their Oct. 7 matchup against the Regina Cougars but lost their game against the University of New Brunswick Reds at the Concordia Classic. Their next game will be on Oct. 20 at Ottawa University at 7 p.m.