Stingers Split Series at Nike Tournament
All basketball teams at Concordia’s 46th annual Nike tournament finished honours even.
At the end of Concordia’s annual Nike men’s basketball tournament, there was one thing the Stingers shared in common with the other teams—they won one, and lost one. First, they eked out a 79-75 victory over the Laurentian Voyageurs on Oct. 7, and then fell to the Sir Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks on Oct. 8 in an 80-75 decision.
The Stingers and Voyagers spent most of the game deadlocked. ConU finished the first half trailing the Voyageurs by one point. By the end of the third quarter the game was tied at 59, leaving the outcome to be decided in the fourth. With the clock ticking down, the Stingers utilized their experience and made some strong plays allowing them to get and then retain the lead for the final few possessions.
Voyageurs head coach Shawn Swords acknowledged that Concordia’s ability to make the plays when it was crunch time won them the game.
“Our best player went down, so that set us back,” said Swords, speaking of Voyageur guard Isiah Pasquale, who left the game with an injury.
Though ConU got the victory, head coach John Dore wasn’t thrilled with his team’s effort. “The only redeeming quality was that we did what we had to do to win the game,” said Dore.
Yet he was pleased with the play of guard Frank Fiola, who led the Stingers offensively with 16 points. “[Fiola] came off the bench and did a good job tonight giving us some good minutes,” Dore said.
Regardless of the win, Dore recognized that the game exposed the Stingers’ need for better team chemistry and better work on defense. “Overall, we just have to get better. We’re not good enough right now.”
“If you have 26 turnovers it’s hard to win a game, so we really have to take care of the ball,” Stingers forward James Clark
Unlike the first game, the one against the Golden Hawks game was decided early. Laurier, after suffering a loss to UQAM, came out with intent to win.
Though the Stingers held a six-point lead at the end of the first quarter, the momentum soon shifted as the turnovers and poor defense that nearly cost them the first game re-emerged.
Mixed defensive assignments by the Stingers combined with the Hawks’ deadly shooting and crisp passing effectively closed the gap in the first two minutes of the second quarter.
Dore noted that the Golden Hawks players were not the most athletic, but they could stop and shoot with considerable accuracy, as they scored 29 points to the Stingers’ 11 to close out the half.
The Stingers managed to take care of the ball and complete their offensive sets early in the second half as they turned up the defensive pressure, double-teaming the Golden Hawks’ shooters and allowing them to shrink their deficit.
In the final quarter, the Hawks kept the game close by missing three free throws awarded to them by the Stingers’ fouls. ConU then succeeded in converting their own free throws to narrow the gap, but turnovers were the story once again as the Golden Hawks held on to win 80-75.
This wasn’t an aspect that sat well with Stingers players. “If you have 26 turnovers it’s hard to win a game, so we really have to take care of the ball,” said forward James Clark.
“We came out in the first quarter really well, but we still have to play a 40-minute game; we can’t just play for the first, third, and fourth,” said guard Decee Krah who scored a game-high 20 points.
Krah had the honour of being selected to the All-Tournament team, even though he still felt his—and his team’s—performance was not up to par.
“We’re nowhere close to where we need to be. We have high expectations. We’re trying to win a national championship,” reiterated Krah.
The Stingers continue their preseason on Oct. 16 when they host the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Tipoff is at 1:00 p.m.
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