In their toughest test to date, McGill Redmen survived a very strong offensive effort by a very good and rapidly improving Laval club, holding on to defeat Rouge et Or 82-80, as both teams shot it extremely well (combined 27 for 66; 41% from 3) in this exciting, high-end game played at 5 PM before a packed house yesterday afternoon at McGill as part of NBA Canada All-star game promotional festivities.
McGill looked to have the game salted away after 6’0″ Jenning Leung‘s 5th 3 of the game with about 1 minute remaining in the 4th quarter gave the home side a 6 point lead. But another shaky effort at the line – McGill went only 2 for 6 from the charity stripe in the final moments – opened the door for Laval, which got as close as 2 but could not come all the way back.
Rouge et Or led for meaningful stretches of this game and built an early third-quarter 6 point advantage after a 12-2 run bridging halftime. But 6’3″ Laurentian transfer Tychon Carter-Newman, who Laval left open on the perimeter almost daring him to make shots, knocked down a pair of 3’s in back-to-back possessions that began a 20-5 McGill run culminated by back-to-back 3’s by Leung that gave Redmen their largest lead at 9 points lead late in the 3rd. Redmen, who shot 15 for 37 from downtown overall, never trailed thereafter but had to hold off a steady array of big Rouge et Or 3’s, many at the end of the shot clock that kept this exciting game full of suspense until the very end. Laval finished 11 for 29 from behind the stripe.
6’5″ Alexandre Leclerc is rapidly establishing himself as one of the elite pure scorers in the RSEQ as he had 23 points on 9-15 shooting including 4 of 7 from 3. Expect Leclerc, just a sophomore, to contend for RSEQ Player-of-the-Year honours as his career continues to evolve. Much of Laval’s first-half offense came from a rather unexpected source in 6’4″ freshman lefty John-Fitzgerald Metayer, who made a couple of tough 3’s and got to the rim for 13 first-half points including a blow-by of 6’5″ Vincent Dufort, who re-injured an ankle on the play and hobbled through the rest of the game. Laval also got a nice effort from 6’5″ Belgium native Thibaud Dezutter who finished with 17.
In a physical game in which referees let the teams decide it, it came down to which team made more big shots and McGill was fortunate to come away with this victory over a Laval team that is just 1-3 thus far in the “Q” but are only a few possessions away from being 4-0 as their 3 losses have come by a combined margin of 10 points (-2 at McGill, -4 to Concordia, -4 to UQAM – game tied with 2 1/2 minutes to go).
Apart from the shaky free-throw shooting, Redmen continue to struggle defending the 3 ball – opponents are shooting nearly 40% from downtown against McGill. After averaging less than 60 ppg allowed in the first 3 games, Redmen surrendered a season-high 80 against Laval – all these elements do not constitute components of a dominant, nationals-contending team. After yesterday afternoon’s result, a case can be made that the Q is much more wide open than previously thought.
Both teams now have completed their first-half schedule and Laval will host a 4 team Holiday tournament in Ste. Foy that includes Calgary, Ottawa and UNB while McGill’s next action is January 9th at Queen’s in Kingston before the RSEQ regular season resumes in mid-January.