On a night dedicated to the departing seniors of the Redmen basketball team, McGill’s talented youth movement almost stole the show. Freshman point guard Olivier Bouchard put up 16 points and five assists to lead the Redmen to an impressive 93-63 drubbing of first-placed UQAM on Saturday night at Love Competition Hall.
Bouchard, who played his CEGEP ball at College Montmorency, looked to push the tempo of the game from the start. The diminutive guard wreaked havoc on the Citadins’ perimeter defence with his quickness, consistently getting to the rim and finding open shooters on the wings. The Redmen led 19-18 at the end of the first quarter, and came out with even greater intensity to start the second period.
An early free-throw by fourth-year forward Jesse Woods and a jumper by fellow senior Matthew Thornhill marked the beginning of the end for the visiting side. The Redmen caught fire from the outside midway through the period, but also continued to pound the ball into the post and get to the charity stripe. McGill’s offensive scheme – coupled with stifling zone defence and a commitment to rebounding – proved a deadly combination for the Citadins, who struggled to manufacture points all game long.
The offensive onslaught continued in the second half, with McGill’s lead ballooning to a whopping 43 points with seven minutes remaining in the final stanza. A series of UQAM threes near the end of the game made the final score slightly more respectable, but the margin of victory for McGill was still the largest in team history over the Citadins.
Thornhill finished with 15 points to go along with four steals, while forward Michael White chipped in with 13 points and seven rebounds. While McGill’s veterans provided their usual steady play, it was the Redmen rookies who shined the brightest. Winn Clark flashed the court-savvy, hustle, and shooting touch that made him a highly sought-after recruit by a number of NCAA Division 1 programs. Clark finished the game with 11 points and four assists, while 6-foot-6 swingman Nic Langley showcased his athleticism and touch on both ends of the floor en route to nine points.
With the departures of Thornhill, Woods, and senior guard Pawel Herra, the Redmen will be a decidedly young squad next season. However, Head Coach Craig Norman’s newest recruits have proven themselves to be a competitive and capable group, and the future is bright for the program. For now, though, the Redmen turn their sights towards the final three games of the regular season, hitting the road on February 12 to take on the Laval Rouge et Or. QSSF playoff action begins on March 4.