McGill Martlet basketball stifles Gaiters

On Nov. 15, the McGill Martlets (2-1) made an early-season statement in Love Competition Hall against Bishop’s University (1-1). Their aggressive performance on both ends of the court enabled them to dismantle the Gaiters by a score of 67-44.

In a game during which McGill never trailed, the Martlets smothered Bishop’s on the defensive end: They limited the Gaiters to just 18.8 per cent shooting during the evening. The Martlets also benefitted from the heroics of fourth-year transfer centre Sirah Diarra, who posted a monstrous double-double with 20 points and 23 rebounds.

Scoring was slow to start: The first few minutes of action were a hectic and ultimately fruitless back-and-forth for both teams. McGill struck first on a well-executed out-of-bounds play when second-year guard Charlotte Clayton, who finished with 11 points, knocked down a baseline jumper.

After a subsequent 10-unanswered-point run, the Martlets found themselves up 12-2. However, after several turnovers and fouls, Bishop’s pulled back within four—the closest margin of the night. The period ended with the Martlets back up 10, leading 21-11.

In the second quarter, the Martlets truly took command of the game. McGill benefitted from a string of great defensive plays from Diarra and second-year forward Kamsi Ogbudibe as well as swift offensive execution. The Gaiters managed just seven points all quarter, shooting an anemic 8.7 per cent from the field.

In the third quarter, the Gaiters managed to pull within 14 points of the Martlets. Diarra responded with crucial plays at the rim, and Clayton drilled a deep, buzzer-beating three-pointer, ending the quarter at 48-31 McGill.

By the fourth quarter, every Martlet had gotten involved, either breaking the full-court press for layups, driving hard to the basket to make a play, or knocking down the open jumper. To the delight of the packed house, the Martlet lead ballooned to 24 points at one point before the final buzzer sounded with a final score of 67-44.

Head Coach Ryan Thorne felt that this was one of McGill’s most impressive wins in a long time.

“Usually, we’re very methodical with what we do offensively, and, […] today, we started to change it up to be a little more aggressive,” Thorne said.

Thorne stressed the importance his team put on matchups in their game plan, both in exploiting their interior advantage on offence and in focusing the Martlet defensive effort on Bishop’s two primary threats. Diarra, who attributed her personal success to quick and decisive playmaking, agreed that the team had done well in following through with its game plan.

“This week, we practiced [attacking the basket, moving the ball, and cutting], and today we executed [it] on the court,” Diarra said.

Ogbudibe spoke to the team’s defensive mindset, which allowed the Martlets to dominate Bishop’s throughout the night.

“It was [all about] the details on defence,” Ogbudibe said. “[We] tried to prevent them from rebounding and getting easy put-backs.”

The Martlets will look to build on the win on Nov. 22 when they host cross-town rival Concordia (1-1) for the annual Pots and Pans game.

Moment of the Game

The Martlet offence went cold toward the end of the third period until second-year starting guard Charlotte Clayton hit a pull-up, buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the quarter and put McGill back up by 17 points.

Quotable

“I think this was probably one of the most impressive wins that we’ve had in a long time, just with a bit of a different style to it.” – Head Coach Ryan Thorne on his team’s aggressive offense.

Stat Corner

Sirah Diarra led the way for the Martlets with a dominant performance, as she hauled down 23 of her team’s total 49 rebounds, to go along with her 20 points and four blocks.

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