Stingers 77, UQAM 71: Women’s Basketball Clinches Win in Home Opener

Myriam Leclerc Pushes Stingers to Victory with 28-point Performance

The Concordia Stingers start off the 2019-2020 season with a win. Photo Elisa Barbier

The Stingers kicked off their season with a much needed win on Saturday at home vs Université du Québec à Montréal’s Citadins.

After a challenging pre-season where they only won two games and dealt with a wave of injuries, this one may feel a bit better than usual.

“We had a pretty hard preseason. Today we just showed up and we really needed this win and we got it,” said second-year guard Myriam Leclerc.

Leclerc put on a stellar performance, particularly in the fourth quarter, where she scored 11 of the team’s 22 points to put the game to bed.

The game got off to a racing start, with both teams pushing the pace and looking to shoot early in the shot clock. Midway through the first, both offences stagnated but Concordia was able to draw fouls on both offence and defence by putting pressure on UQAM.

With 2:44 to go in the quarter, center Natacha Bwabwa fouled Stingers forward Nikita Telesford and put Concordia in the bonus allowing Leclerc to take advantage.

The second-year guard forced her way into the paint, drawing fouls and making all four of her free throws late in the quarter to help the Stingers finish the first up 18-10.

In the second frame, Concordia got into foul trouble and gave up fast-break opportunities by turning the ball over.

The Stingers were able to hold on to their lead by defending well, limiting the Citadins to just over 27 per cent shooting from the field and ending the half up 38-29.

That same defensive energy was lacking in the second half, which allowed UQAM to chip away at the lead.

The Stingers had trouble guarding the Citadins’ pick and roll, 6’5 UQAM Centre Inga Aleksaite a free lane to the hoop. Aleksaite scored eight of her 14 points in the third quarter.

“I don’t know what happens to us at halftime. We have to do a better job in the second half, coming out with the same defensive intensity, pressure and discipline as we do in the first quarter,” said head coach Gittens.

UQAM continued to put dents in the Concordia lead in the fourth. Guard Alex Dufresne brought the Citadins within two points of the Stingers, sinking both her free throws to make it 68-66 with 2:57 left in the quarter.

Leclerc proceeded to put on an offensive clinic to finish off the game. Spotting up for three and sinking the shot, then driving in the lane and finishing at the rim, and on the next two possessions driving in and inviting pressure only to pass it off for an assist and a foul.

This is a player that has clearly earned the trust of her team and coach in crunch time.

“I feel comfortable with her having the ball, the girls trust her with the ball in her hand, she trusts herself with the ball in her hand…we all have confidence in each other and it’s good, she does a good job,” said Gittens.

For Leclerc, having the ball in her hands in clutch moments is all about the team.

“I’m not the only one who can score so when I have the ball, the first thing is to [find] them,” she said. “I’m just not forcing my shot. I’m waiting for it and if I have it, I’ll shoot it but I’m really looking inside. I want to feed my post [players] I want them to get us some buckets.”

Leclerc is right, she is not the only one who can score. The Stingers had three players score more than the team-high for UQAM with Nikita Telesford scoring 16 points along with nine rebounds in her RSEQ debut and Caroline Task, adding 18 points and four assists.

Coach Gittens is happy to have that kind of firepower on her team but insists that in order to compete at a high level “what’s important is the defence.”

The Stingers will be looking to continue their journey back to the RSEQ playoffs at home on Nov. 14 against Bishop’s University at 6 p.m.