Reasserting himself as the favorite for RSEQ Player-of-the-Year, 6’1″ Kewyn Blain dominated at both ends, slashing to the rim, deftly pitching to open 3 point shooters and shooting the gap defensively for steals and deflections as UQAM tightend the race for top spot in the RSEQ with an exciting 82-78 overtime win at McGill last night. Citadins pair of post-Christmas additions 6’5″ Julien Girard and 6’0″ Charles Miller were also very instrumental in the win, making several open 3’s, usually on perfect draw-and-kick looks from Blain after the dynamic point guard drew McGill help – sometimes over-help – from the perimeter. Blain finished with 22 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals as UQAM shot 8 for 16 from downtown including a combined 7 for 11 for Girard and Miller (16 points on 4-5 3’s).
The struggling Redmen, now losers of 4 of their last 6 games, actually got off to a strong start, buoyed by the return of reigning RSEQ POY 6’7″ Francois Bourque, busting out to an 8-0 lead early and leading by as many as 9 early in the second quarter. But an inability to create off the dribble, some terrible finishing around the rim aided by some liberal interpretations of what is a foul and careless McGill turnovers allowed UQAM to creep back into the game.
UQAM took the game over in the third quarter as Blain began weaving his magic, setting up Miller and Girard for four three-pointers late in the quarter as Citadins erased a two point McGill lead finishing the quarter on a 19-10 run. The Redmen helped as McGill was in the bonus with just 4:12 gone in the quarter – aided by 3 foul calls within 13 seconds of play, all on plays 18-20 feet from the basket as referees decided to call ball screen hedges tighter at that point in the game. In all, McGill was whistled for 26 fouls vs. 17 for UQAM including 17-10 count after halftime.
Redmen authored one of their now-infamous late game rallies in the fourth quarter to send the game into OT as 6’8″ sophomore forward Noah Daoust came alive late, scoring all of his team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Daoust’s three from the top of the bowl in what were his final points of the game tied it for the last time at 75 with about 3 minutes left in OT. But Miller slashed in for a lay-up and then Citadins went 3 for 6 from the line before 6’2″ Dele Ogundkun had a chance to tie the game with 19 seconds left in the extra session but missed his second of two free throws, allowing UQAM to ice the game.
McGill continued their wretched shooting from downtown, connecting on only 5 for 26 from beyond the arc (19%) and are shooting about 22% from 3 after the Christmas break. Redmen were also very careless with the basketball, turning it over 23 times including 7 by 6’0″ Jenning Leung, who appeared to injury his hamstring while chasing a ball out-of-bounds late in the second quarter. Leung and Ogundokun combined to shoot 5 for 24 from the field and 1 for 10 from downtown.
Girard, a native of France who has been with UQAM since the start of the season but was only accepted in his academic program in January, is a very good three-point shooter when his feet are set while Miller, a John Abbott grad who transferred home after spending one season at NCAA Division II Upper Iowa University, is your typical knock-down, quick-release 3 point gunner who needs little time to get his shot off. Both are perfect sidekicks for Blain, who is electric off the dribble and reads the ball screen as well as any guard in the country.
The teams meet again at UQAM on Saturday at 7 PM ET.
In the other Quebec game, 6’6″ Michael Fosu was too much inside as Concordia ran away from Bishop’s setting up a tie for first in the RSEQ standings. A second Stinger victory on Saturday at Lennoxville will all but eliminate the Gaiters from post-season play and set up a scenario where the final few weeks of the season will hold little mystery. All 4 teams meet in the RSEQ Final Four this season being held at Love Competition Hall at McGill.