Junior point guard Ave Bross makes his way into the lane. (Remi Lu / McGill Tribune)

Basketball: Redmen sweep Gaiters to move into first in RSEQ

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The no. 8 ranked McGill Redmen (8-2) stormed Love Competition Hall Thursday evening, coasting to a 80-67 win over the Bishop’s Gaiters (6-4). In a battle for first place in the RSEQ division, the Redmen emerged on top; Bishop’s intensity level was nowhere close to McGill’s as the home squad’s stifling man-to-man defence and red-hot offence from beyond the arc were the keys to a decisive victory.

The Redmen came out with a bang in the first quarter, setting the tone early with their crisp ball movement and suffocating defence. The home team managed to spread the floor well without forcing any shots. McGill tallied up a 20-4 score midway through the first quarter—which included five three-pointers in transition. However, the more impressive feat was keeping Bishop’s to seven points in the quarter and merely 20 points total by the half.

Yet the second half was a very different story for both squads. The Redmen came out flat, and the Gaiters retaliated with a run of their own as they made appropriate adjustments on defence. Bishop’s outscored McGill by 12 points in the second half and showed some life, but the Gaiters’ comeback run had come too late in the game.

“[Bishop’s] are a very good team,” Head Coach David DeAveiro said. “We happened to shoot the ball extremely well and got up big. You can’t judge them by one half of play. [In] the second half, they kicked our butts. Their coach made a couple of adjustments that were some good ones, and [the team] played with more intensity. They took away some of the things we liked to do, and we didn’t handle it well.”

Along with launching McGill into the  top spot in the RSEQ, the game also marked the first time Redmen senior guard and co-captain Simon Bibeau has scored 20 points or more in a game since October. Bibeau was key to McGill’s victory, leading all scorers with 21 points—including three three-pointers in the first quarter. Rookie guards Dele Ogundokun and Michael Peterkin were also spectacular as they chipped in 17 points apiece in the contest.

However, the journey for first place in the RSEQ didn’t stop Thursday evening, as the team played a rematch against Bishop’s at Lennoxville, Quebec on Saturday, where the Gaiters had previously been undefeated in season play.

“We are going to look at the tape, and [will be watching] the second half [of Thursday’s game,]” DeAveiro said. “We are going to figure out how to beat [Bishop’s] tough defence and learn some lessons [to be] ready to play Saturday.”

McGill was more than ready to play in their second contest of the week as they defended their newly acquired first place position with a 55-48 victory over the Gaiters in front of a raucous Carnival crowd. Co-captains Bibeau and Vincent Dufort led the way for the team, with Bibeau recording 15 points and Dufort posting a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“It was a huge thing to win back-to-back against Bishop’s,” Bibeau said. “We know that they’re a tough team. We were in the run for first place. We were able to confirm our [first-place position] this weekend.”

McGill will look to continue their three-game winning streak against UQAM at 8:00 p.m. on Feb. 2 at Love Competition Hall.