For the third time in four years, the Laval Rouge et Or are moving on to the provincial championships. Laval provided the upset of the season when they knocked out division-leading McGill on Wednesday night in convincing fashion, despite the final score. They’ll meet UQAM on Saturday, when the QUBL Champion will be crowned and an automatic CIS berth will be given. Here’s a recap of what happened last night:
Laval 72 at McGill 68
In every basketball game there are two outcomes. Your team can either win, or your team can play so badly that they lose. McGill didn’t lose this game – Laval won it. McGill could never find their rhythm against 4th ranked Laval who played some outstanding defense. The main reason for McGill’s success this season has been their outside shooting – but in this game they shot a dismal 10.3 percent (3 of 29). Linda Marquis, head coach of the Rouge et Or for 26 seasons, warned us that this would be the outcome at the beginning of the season. That article (in French) talks about how she didn’t think her team would be ready for the beginning of the season but would come together towards the end – and that is precisely what happened.
Laval won this game thanks to their defense. In the first quarter, they caused McGill to go deep into the shot clock and caused a few violations. The usually high-octance McGill offense was held to 9 first quarter points and could never find their groove. The newly named Player of the Year – Anneth Him-Lazarenko – could never find her game and played only 24 minutes. It was the play of rookies Roya Assadi and Valerie L’Écuyer that kept McGill alive when no one else was able to find their offensive touch. In the end, it proved for naught as Natalie Larocque, Françoise Charest, and Marie-Ève Martin went a collective 3-25 from beyond the arc. Most of the shots taken were forced due to an expiring shot clock and all the credit goes to Laval who rarely gave them any sort of good looks.
Laval relied on the play of Marie-Michelle Genois, Elyse Jobin, and Mélodie Laniel-Dion. All three scored in double digits, but it was truly a collective effort for the Rouge et Or whose half court defense and press break led them to the win. Marquis simply had a game plan that her counterpart Ryan Thorne had no answer for, and now McGill must wait to see if they make it through to Regionals through a wild card berth.
Concordia 54 at UQAM 65
The second semi-final saw the red-hot Citadins handily beat Concordia 65-54 in their home gym, relying on Emie Simard and Karine Boudrias. UQAM, who closed out the season on a 4 game winning streak, outplayed the Stingers for four straight quarters. Concordia was led by Magalie Beaulieu and Yasmin Jean-Phillipe who each scored a team-high 12 points. Newly crowned Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Kaylah Barrett racked up 3 steals and 7 points, but went 3-12 from the charity stripe.
It was Concordia’s inconsistency that continued to be the problem, as they played a poor first quarter that saw them outscored 23-11. The lead proved too much for them to overcome as UQAM played a very good game throughout.
The Citadins' win means that they will host the Laval Rouge et Or on Saturday at 7PM. These teams met during the last regular season game of the season: it went into overtime and tipped in UQAM's favor 86-81. This will be a great game and the outcome is absolutely up for grabs. The Rouge et Or, after their dismal start, seem poised to win it all in the QUBL. UQAM, on the other hand, have been playing like champions for the past 5 weeks. Be sure to tune in for this final matchup.