On Jan. 31, at Love Competition Hall, the McGill men’s basketball team (6-5) trounced the Laval Rouge et Or (5-6) to extend their second-place lead over Laval in the RSEQ standings. The two sides put up an entertaining display for the 271 fans in attendance for the annual Bell Let’s Talk event. McGill Athletics handed out hats as a means of spreading awareness and fighting stigma surrounding mental health among student athletes.
Laval opened the game with a quick start, taking a nine-point lead before McGill could score a single basket. McGill struggled at first as they fumbled rebounds and bounced shot after shot off the backboard. Finally, McGill managed to end Laval’s run courtesy of fifth-year guard Avery Cadogan. Second-year guard Jamal Mayali pulled McGill even closer with a layup assisted by fifth-year forward Noah Daoust. The Rouge et Or, however, halted the McGill offensive, closing the first quarter with a score of 19-12.
Determined to climb back from the deficit, McGill started the second quarter assertively. First-year guard Quarry Whyne executed a perfect fake into a jump shot. Whyne repeated the move, this time following the fake with a layup. As the crowd came alive, Cadogan sunk a three-pointer. On the defensive end, Daoust shined, keeping the game close with a strong block and rebound. Moments later, he made a layup to give McGill the lead. A Whyne three-pointer swished through the hoop as the buzzer sounded to bring the second period to a close, with McGill leading 31-26.
McGill kicked off an exciting third quarter with a three-pointer from first-year guard Anthony Fisiru. Second-year guard Sam Jenkins then combined with Daoust three times as part of a 10-point McGill run. McGill sailed into the final quarter with an 18-point lead.
In the final frame, a resurgent Laval tested McGill. The Rouge et Or fought back with passion, going on a 13-0 run to cut the McGill lead to seven. During this run, McGill lost Cadogan to injury, and he did not return for the remainder of the game. With the pressure mounting and the team without one of their most trusted veterans, McGill rose to the occasion. An inspired Daoust again chipped in with a pair of three-pointers, finishing the game with 15 points, as McGill closed the game to take the 66-53 win.
“For the most part, we were successful, we ran our offence and made a lot of good decisions,” Head Coach David DeAveiro said. “We got in situations where we got a little tired, and they got some momentum, but we made some good shots and killed the game.”
In recognition of the game’s unique significance, DeAveiro reiterated the importance of mental health awareness in sports.
“It wasn’t even an issue back in my days [as a player],” DeAveiro said. “It was needed back then, but we didn’t recognize it [….] We have to be aware of it. You gotta be there for your kids.”
With five games left in the regular season, McGill will look to make up ground on first-place Concordia. Second-year point guard JJ Hamel-Carey is looking forward to their last matchup.
“Big games, I’m born for that, I live for that,” Hamel-Carey said. “If you’re a baller and don’t want to play in the big games, then you’re not really a basketball player.”
In McGill and Laval’s rematch on Feb. 2, the Rouge et Or came out on top 73-65. McGill will visit the UQAM Citadins (5-6) on Feb. 7.
Moment of the game
First-year guard Quarry Whyne stole the show in the second quarter after performing a series of remarkable fakes and sinking two consecutive shots.
“If you’re part of the […] team, really, it builds bonds and relationships. We’ve done a good job of being connected as brothers, […] so if anybody feels down, it’s our job to help out.” – JJ Hamel-Carey on how teammates build a supportive locker room atmosphere.
Noah Daoust (15), Quarry Whyne (11), and Sam Jenkins (11) all registered double figures in scoring.