In the dead of winter, a crowd of McGill students in swimsuits and beachwear came to Love Competition Hall to see Martlets basketball (7-6) down the visiting UQAM Citadins (7-6) 55-50 on Feb. 9’s Beach Night.
With a bevy of turnovers from both squads, neither team was able to capitalize and gain a substantial lead in the first half. Despite the Citadins struggles as a unit, senior centre Jessica Lubin had a dominant first half performance, netting 12 points and 5 rebounds.
“[Lubin] is probably one of the top post players in the country,” Martlets Head Coach Ryan Thorne said.
Up by two points at halftime, the Martlets enjoyed some much-needed rest before breaking out in the third frame. Momentum swung McGill’s way as a pair of threes from sophomore guard Fredericke Laflamme stretched McGill’s lead to 12 points before the fourth quarter.
“I think the girls did a good job knocking down shots when they needed to,” senior Martlets centre Alex Kiss-Rusk said. “We took a few reckless ones that were kind of lucky going in, but we did a good job.”
In the final frame, the game began to unravel for the Martlets. Turnovers and missed shots pumped life back into the UQAM attack. With 30 seconds left, the Citadins clawed back from a double-digit deficit to tie the game at 50. After a McGill timeout, Kiss-Rusk set an off-ball screen to free up senior guard Frederique Potvin for the clutch three to regain the lead.
“We tried to run this play twice in the game, but it didn’t really work out,” Potvin said “But then Alex set me a really great screen and my defender got caught in it and I was wide open, so I didn’t have a choice but to hit it.”
On the next possession, the Citadins air-balled a three that would have tied the game before the Martlets converted a pair of free throws to ice the game.
“It was for sure a tough game, but we had a 16 point lead,” Potvin said. “I wish we had kept the lead, but we still pulled that off, so that’s all that matters.”
While Lubin finished the game with 21 points and 18 rebounds for UQAM, it was McGill’s balanced attack that prevailed. Gladys Hakizimana, Kiss-Rusk, and Laflamme all finished the game with double-digit points and combined for 13 rebounds.
The Martlets will head across town to take on the Concordia Stingers on Feb. 16. With their playoff spot secure, the team’s focus will be on preparing for what lies beyond the upcoming match.
“[This next game] is about improving every week as we head into playoffs,” Thorne said. “It’s not necessarily about Concordia, it’s more about us being better.”
Moment of the Game: An off-ball screen from Alex Kiss-Rusk freed up Frederique Potvin for an open three to give McGill the lead with 16 seconds left in the game.
Quotable: “When we were in trouble is [when] we got stagnant [….] We wanted someone to win the game one-on-one, and we’re not that team.” —Martlets Head Coach Ryan Thorne on team cohesion
Stat Corner: McGill was outscored in the paint 34 to 16 by UQAM.