With one second left on the shot clock, Carolann Cloutier let it fly from beyond the arc and drained a three to widen an early lead for McGill.In a flash, she sprinted to intercept the inbounds pass, dribbled into open space, and pulled up for another two points.
It was that kind of night Saturday for Cloutier and the Martlets (3-0). McGill defeated the Concordia Stingers (1-2) 65-55 to move into first place in the RSEQ standings. McGill is now the only undefeated team left in the conference, and the win snapped a three-game losing streak against the Stingers dating back to Nov. 21, 2013.
For a team built around its dominant forwards, the Martlets struggled to score in the paint early on. Fortunately, the team’s young guards were able to take care of business on the perimeter.
“They played us with a zone [defence], which took away some of our inside game but freed up some outside shots,” Head Coach Ryan Thorne said. “We haven’t been shooting well over the past couple of games, so for Cloutier to come out and do that was well needed.”
Cloutier–a sophomore guard from Montreal–was relentless over 31 minutes of courttime, shooting 11-for-15 from the field for a career-high 27 points. Fifteen of those points came on three-pointers, as she nailed shot after shot—including a dagger with 4:10 remaining in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. She finished with five three-pointers on six attempts. The performance proved contagious, as the entire Martlet squad caught fire from three-point range in the first half, finishing the game with 11 triples.
“We shot 60 per cent from three in the first half,” Thorne said. “I think everybody felt comfortable and confident. When you see one [teammate] going, you feel good and start hitting shots.”
The win was a complete effort for the Martlets. Coach Thorne utilized his deep bench to give significant minutes to 10 different players, keeping his starters fresh throughout the game. While the Stingers managed to hold star junior forward Mariam Sylla to just six points, she bullied her opponents on the glass, pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds. Senior point guard Dianna Ros added an efficient 11 points and six assists, and sophomore forward Jen Silver and freshman guard Marika Guerin each finished with six points.
In contrast, all five Stingers starters played the full 40 minutes—a reflection of Concordia’s lack of depth. Still, it was a five-point game at the end of the third quarter, at which point Thorne outlined a new game plan at the break.
“We wanted to push the tempo and make them run,” Thorne said. “They had five players, so we wanted to make it a lot more of a fast-paced game.”
The strategy worked, as the fatigued Stingers hit a wall partway through the final frame. The Martlets outscored Concordia 12-7 in the final quarter, closing out the win with an energetic defensive display.
The Martlets will look to stay undefeated in their last game of the semester against second-place Laval (2-1) on Friday, Nov. 28.
Despite the impressive all-around showing from his team, Coach Thorne said that he needed to see more hustle before the Martlets could take their game to the next level.
“We need that hunger–right now we’re not hungry,” Thorne said. “[I] give a lot of credit to Concordia–they played well and attacked us. But we have to […] go out there and dive after loose balls [and] play physical.”