Basketball: McGill does the double for the first time ever

It was Championship Saturday in the RSEQ and a rare playoff doubleheader was on tap in Montreal. Since "RSEQ" is a French acronym that roughly translates into “We Only Get One Berth”, the conference playoffs, particularly the championship game, are an all-or-nothing proposition.

On Saturday, it was all McGill. The Marlets and Redmen each pulled out three point victories to advance to the Final 8. In the women’s game, the Martlets held off a late Concordia comeback attempt to defeat the Stingers 51-48. In the nightcap, the Bishop’s Gaiters led through most of the game, but the Redmen came back in the second half to score a 77-74 win and their first league crown in 27 years.

The McGill double is the first in school history, and marks the first time that a school has held both the men’s and women’s crowns since Laval in 2007-08.

Anneth Him-Lazarenko’s double-double led the Martlets to a 51-48 win over the Stingers in another typical defensive struggle. The fifth-year forward scored a team-high 14 points and added 12 rebounds as the Martlets withstood a late Stinger charge to win their second straight conference title.

She scored seven points in the Martlets’ first-quarter 13-4 run, as McGill turned a 6-0 deficit into a 13-8 lead. McGill led 19-12 after the first quarter, and 32-23 at halftime. Early in the third, Marie-Pier Bastarash made a three-pointer to give the Martlets a 35-23 lead - their biggest of the afternoon. Concordia came back to within four points at 34-30 with 3:00 left in the third, but McGill stretched the lead back out to eight points at 42-34.

After Him-Lazarenko put McGill up by ten again at 46-36 with 7:21, the Stingers mounted their comeback, and a trio of field goals by Marilyse Roy-Viau, who led all scorers with 18 points, brought Concordia to within two points at 50-48 with only 17 seconds left. However, after Bastarash made one of two free throws to extend the lead to three, Concordia could not make a buzzer-beater.

For McGill, Fran├žoise Charest was the only other player in double figures, with ten points, while Mariam Sylla scored seven points and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds. McGill outrebounded Concordia 44-25.

Roy-Viau was the only Stinger in double figures. Ashley Clarke score nine points, and Kaylah Barrett was held to eight.

McGill shot 35% in the game, while Concordia hit 30% of their shots. McGill was 4-of-12 from three-point range, while Concordia was only 3-of-24.

McGill heads into the Final 8 in Regina with a 20-9 record vs. CIS opposition (13-3 in the regular season), while Concordia finishes at 21-12 vs. CIS, 11-5 in regular season play.

Strong free-throw shooting allowed the Redmen to come back from a 15-point deficit and defeat the upstart Gaiters, 77-74, on Saturday evening. Adrian Hynes-Guery led the Redmen with 24 points, including 19 in the second half, as McGill won their first league championship since Patrick Ewing was a rookie. Hynes-Guery, a transfer who had spent time at Drexel and American International, was 4-for-15 from the field, but 14-for-16 on free throws.

The Gaiters led through most of the game, and pulled out to a 19-9 lead off a three-pointer by forward Tim Hunter, playing in what turned out to be his last game. Bishop’s led 23-14 after the first quarter and were comfortably ahead throughout the second, with five late points from Hunter and centre Mike Andrews giving the Gaiters a 42-28 halftime lead.

The Gaiters led by 15 points early in the third, with a 49-34 lead after a Jonathan Bermillo free throw proving to be the high-water mark for the purple-clad visitors. The Redmen started to chip away at the lead, one point at a time. They went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line during an 11-4 run that cut the lead to eight, 53-45. After Hunter restored the 10-point bulge, the Redmen went on an 8-2 run, punctuated by a three-pointer by Simon Bibeau, to cut the gap to four points at 57-53. The Gaiters led by six, 61-55, after three quarters. Hynes-Guery went 8-for-10 from the line in the third quarter alone.

In the fourth, McGill completed their comeback as Hynes-Guery was fouled on a three-point shot and made all three free throws, capping a 7-0 run that tied the game at 65-65 with 5:08 left, the first tie since a 7-7 deadlock midway through the first quarter. With 4:04 left, McGill took their first lead at 68-67, appropriately enough on a Hynes-Guery free throw that capped a three-point play.

The Gaiters rebounded and led 74-70 with two minutes to go, but a basket by Te’Jour Riley and a Hynes-Guery triple put McGill up 75-74 with 1:07 left, the fifth and final lead change of the contest.

Bibeau was the only other McGill player in double figures, with 12 points, while Vincent Dufort was a point shy of a double-double as he scored nine and grabbed ten boards.

For Bishop’s, Andrews finished with 22 points, while Hunter had 17. Jeremy Leonard-Smith finished with 14 points, while Onnex Blackwood had ten.

McGill outrebounded Bishop’s 35-27 and outshot the Gaiters 41% to 35%. McGill was 87% from the free-throw line (26-for-30), while Bishop’s struggled, going 11 for 20.

McGill heads to Ottawa with a 21-7 record vs. CIS opposition this year (11-5 regular season), while Bishop’s ends the year at 18-9 (10-6).
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