Martlet basketball made a valiant effort in their first preseason game on Oct. 5, but careless fouls and missed rebounds got the best of them. They suffered a 77–55 defeat to the Queen’s University Gaels.
This game marked the 100th anniversary celebration of Canadian university women’s basketball, which began with a matchup between McGill and Queen’s on Feb. 6, 1920. Since the two teams are in different conferences (McGill plays in the RSEQ, while Queen’s plays in the OUA), this was only the third time in the past seven years where they have played each other. The previous two matches ended in Martlet victories.
Fifth-year transfer centre Sirah Diarra, who led the team with nine points, emphasized the importance of the game for both the McGill community and the sport itself.
“It means a lot knowing that we’re part of this,” Diarra said. “It’s history. It was a great game […] having all the alumni coming to watch us play. We wanted to do our best.”
The Gaels’ rock-solid defence was a substantial obstacle for the Martlets from the beginning of the game. McGill struggled to find passing lanes and was hesitant to shoot, running out the shot clock multiple times. However, a three-pointer from third-year guard Charlotte Clayton brought the energy up going into the second quarter, with McGill down 20–10.
“The beginning of the game was where we kind of fell short,” Clayton said. “We didn’t play our hardest [….] We need to take that responsibility to get ahead in the game.”
The Martlets fared much better in the second quarter. They fought back, remaining physical while committing fewer fouls. First-year forward Nadege Pluviose nabbed two rebounds in a row, and while she didn’t score, her tenacity exemplified the Martlets’ persistent rhythm. By the end of the period, McGill had almost caught up to Queen’s thanks to a layup and a successful free throw in the last minute of the half from third-year forward Kamsi Ogbudibe, bringing the score to 34-30.
“We [needed] to push the ball [and] look for open players,” Diarra said. “We [had] to match [Queen’s’] intensity.”
Unfortunately, a slew of fouls in the third quarter dashed the Martlets’ hopes of catching the Gaels. Players on both teams were on a collision course for the entire quarter, tumbling down together like dominoes. The quarter ended with a score of 55–42 in Queen’s favour.
McGill’s play was tighter in the final frame. Smooth three-pointers from Diarra, fifth-year guard Geraldine Cabillo-Abante, and second-year guard Delphine Robitaille got the crowd roaring. But ultimately, the gap was too wide to close. The final score was 77-55 for Queen’s.
Despite the loss, Clayton remains hopeful about the team’s chances for the regular season.
“We’re a very strong team,” Clayton said. “We need to work on […] showing those strengths for each other. This is just the first game, so with time that’ll come. I’m really optimistic about this season.”
Moment of the Game:
At the beginning of the third quarter, Diarra grabbed her own offensive rebound and sunk a layup to make the score 34-32, bringing the Martlets within two points of the Gaels.
“It’s been a hundred years. It’s definitely come a long way, but we still have a long way to go, so it’s kind of a good meet in the middle.” – Clayton on the historic significance of the game.
Even though Queen’s had the edge in free throws and fast break points, McGill managed to score more second-chance points: 13 to Queen’s’ 8.