Last week, after a game that saw them open up a 19-4 lead in their semi-final against McGill, Concordia Stingers centre Jamal Gallier told me that's the way they like it because it makes it easier for them the rest of the way.
Their Quebec championship win, 79-76 over UQAM, was not easy. The Citadins came out shooting. They shot 80% in the first quarter, 56% in the first half and took a 46-36 halftime lead. UQAM took a 7-0 lead to start the game.
The Stingers started the third quarter once again a little bit slow. Concordia trailed by 12 early in the quarter, 51-39. Then Concordia started to turn it around with defence. The Stingers used a 14-1 run to cut the gap to 52-51, and finally took the lead 56-54 on two free throws from freshman big man Evens Laroche. UQAM kept fighting back. Souleyman (Jules) Diagne had an outstanding game and led both teams with 30 points. He scored back-to-back baskets in the fourth quarter to give UQAM a 71-69 lead with five minutes remaining.
Concordia took the lead for good with a Decee Krah basket with 1:40 left. UQAM cut the lead to 77-76, but two big free throws by Laroche after a key offensive rebound with under a minute left made the game the 79-76 final.
Laroche had a huge game. He was 11/12 from the field, 6/6 from the line for 28 points and had six rebounds - all on the offensive glass.
Damian Buckley had 21 points and 11 assists, while Gallier and Dwayne Buckley had relatively quiet nights. Gallier had 6 points, 4 rebounds while the older Buckley had 8 and 4.
For UQAM, besides Diagne, had solid games from Adil El Makssoud who had 17 points, three assists and five rebounds. Gregory Saint-Amand had 13 points and 6 rebounds.
The Stingers will be the only Quebec representative at the Final 8 and my best guess is that they will be in the 4-5 game in the first round.