McGill 53, Concordia 44 Redmen took over early in the fourth quarter and held the Stingers to just 22% shooting for the game – overcoming a ridiculous free throw disparity for the first 33 minutes of the game – to take charge of the race for the RSEQ regular season crown with a gut-check win at the Bee Hive. McGill now has a one-game lead in the loss column over Concordia and holds the tie-breaker as the teams split the season series 2-2 but Redmen hold the point spread at +8. Concordia took the first 22 free throws of the game ! and McGill did not get to the line a single time until 6 1/2 minutes remained in the fourth quarter.
Down the stretch of the regular season, Redmen are beginning to receive the senior leadership required from 6’5″ fifth-year point forward Vincent Dufort, who got off to a great start offensively and was the catalyst down the stretch, with several wonderful looks to teammates for easy layups. Dufort, who finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and got credit for only 2 assists – by the naked eye there were several more including a couple of key dimes down the stretch – has been forced to assume much of the offensive decision-making duties as 6’1″ Jenning Leung continues to struggle with his hamstring injury. Leung tried to go in the first half but could not continue and did not play after halftime. As well, emerging backup 6’1″ Jawara Pedican , who logged 36 minutes in Leung’s absence in Redmen’s prior game – a win at UQAM – missed today’s game with an undisclosed injury.
The game was marred by multiple, continual head scratching calls from the officiating crew – against both teams – that whistled McGill for 19 of the first 29 fouls of the game and put Stingers into bonus within 4 minutes of play in both the second and third quarters. Redmen shot their first free throws of the game with just over 6 minutes to play in the game and had only 10 trips to the line in total – all in the fourth quarter.
McGill blew the game open with a 9-0 run during a four minute stretch midway through the fourth quarter to take a 10 point lead with 3 minutes to play as 6’7″ Francois Bourque, who adds a layer of toughness to the Redmen – he and 6’6″ Michael Fosu got into a shoving match that semi-emptied the benches in the final minute of play – got free inside for lay-ups and fouls. 6’2″ Dele Ogundokun, still mired in a shooting slump (although he did make a couple of 3’s), got to the rim in transition and with an authoritative drive along the baseline.
Redmen jumped out to an early 11 point lead at 17-6 by defending the ball and occasionally switching to a zone defense, keeping the athletic Stingers off the glass. Offensively, Dufort slashed to the rim a couple of times and knocked down a pair of 3’s, part of his 12 point first-half effort. However Concordia, the top defensive team in the “Q” began guarding the ball with more success and a block by 6’4″ Ken Beaulieu on a seemingly-open transition lay-up for Bourque seemed to energize the Stingers. Later Beaulieu, who was held in check offensively, went to the bench with 2 fouls and finished the game with only 7 points on 2 of 11 shooting after averaging 19 ppg during Stingers 7 game winning streak.
Given Stingers ability to guard the ball at every position, McGill went several minutes without scoring in the second quarter and Stingers got out in transition off their “d” and at the foul line. In the double OT game played between the two teams three weeks ago, the final foul count was a ridiculous McGill 39, Concordia 21 – this afternoon, the Stingers were in double bonus in the first 3 minutes of the second quarter. Bourque went to the bench early with 3 fouls and Stingers came back to take a one-point lead on a 3 by steady 6’0″ pg Ricardo Monge. But McGill scored the final 4 points of the quarter as substitute big 6’9″ Sebastien Beckett got free inside for a couple of scores.
Stingers have tried to feature all season long their 6’5″ freshman Schneiders Suffrard, especially with isolations in the post. The long, confident wing is given license to back down his opponents in the low post and, at home in the Bee Hive at least, is allowed ample leeway by officials with regard to initiating contact with defenders. Although he draws his share of fouls, Suffrard is not a knock-down free throw shooter and his perimeter shot selection can be head-scratching at times also. Suffrard finished 2 for 17 from the floor this afternoon with a team-high 5 turnovers and went 4 for 10 from the line. Certainly one of the top newcomers to the “Q”, Suffrard has shown to be a streaky scorer when things are going well for him and his emotions are positive.