Stingers 80, Gaiters 74: Concordia survives second-half onslaught

A heroic comeback attempt from the Gaiters falls just short

Stingers point guard Alec Phaneuf attempts a field goal. Photo Yann Rifflard

The Concordia Stingers came out with a bittersweet seventh straight win on Feb. 1. The Bishop’s Gaiters cut a 20-point Concordia lead down to a final score of 80-74 after a major injury inspired a heroic comeback attempt on John Dore Court.

The energy at John Dore Court was off the charts as the first quarter began. Gaiters’ fans turned out in impressive numbers, rivalling the homecourt Stingers fans. The quarter began with a quick five-point run off of jumpers by starting guards Sami Jahan and Alec Phaneuf. The Gaiters quickly responded, scoring ten uninterrupted points until Concordia’s second-year forward Ba-Amara Djame scored a smooth floater to end the Stingers’ scoring drought.  

Djame, who averages five and a half points per game this season, had a big night. He scored fourteen points, with six rebounds and a pair of assists, making 50 percent of his three-point attempts. Jahan, who finished the game with twenty points, four rebounds, and four assists, joined Djame in making timely shots throughout the game to end Gaiters' scoring runs. 

Stingers guard Junior Mercy emphasized the importance of his teammates scoring crucial points to take momentum away from Bishop’s.

“It just makes the job for guys like me easier, I just have to drive and kick it out, and it's almost guaranteed that we have a bucket,” said Mercy. “It balances everything out”

Mercy also filled the stat sheet, with six points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals and a block.

Concordia led 16-14 heading into the second quarter, but the Stingers jumped out to a 20-point lead halfway through. The Gaiters fought back with another ten-point uninterrupted scoring run, but Djame ended Bishop’s run with back-to-back three-point jump shots. Another big shot from Jahan gave Concordia a 52-31 lead heading into the half.

Two minutes into the third quarter, Gaiters guard CJ Skye stole the ball and began a fast break. While he was going up to finish the play, Stingers guard Jaheem Joseph blocked him from behind, which was ruled clean by the referees. Skye fell hard on his right arm, injuring him badly. Fifty minutes passed before paramedics were able to lift him onto a stretcher and take him to the hospital. The entirety of the gym gave him a well-deserved standing ovation. Play eventually resumed and the scoreboard read 65-50 Stingers at the end of the quarter. 

An inspiring Gaiters comeback came just a bit too late, though the Stingers were shaken by the tragic events that took place in the third quarter. The contest ended 80-74, and Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic commented on the change in the Stingers' effort in the fourth quarter.

“For three quarters and a half, I thought [the effort] was very good. We just got sloppy down the stretch,” said Popovic. “That’s very disappointing, but it's still a win and we just have to get ready for Saturday.”

The Stingers' next home game will be played against the Université du Québec à Montréal Citadins on Feb. 10 at John Dore Court, following the women’s game. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.