On Feb. 23, the McGill men’s basketball team (9-7) defeated the visiting Laval Rouge et Or (5-11) by a comfortable margin of 91-73. The game marked the end of the regular season, as well as a celebration of Black History Month and Senior Night. The evening began with a pre-game ceremony for its four graduating players: Fifth-year transfer point guard Alex Paquin, fourth-year point guard Isaiah Cummins, fifth-year forward Noah Daoust, and fifth-year guard Avery Cadogan. While Daoust and Cadogan suited up, Paquin and Cummins were sidelined by injuries.
McGill drew first blood with a quick three from first-year guard Quarry Whyne. However, the momentum quickly shifted, and Laval jumped ahead with an early 18-11 lead with some strong three-point shooting of their own.
McGill came out strong in the second quarter, but again, Laval was quick to respond as the teams traded runs throughout the frame. The Rouge et Or, who shot a remarkable 61.1 per cent from three, then went on a 9-2 run, scoring three times from three-point range in quick succession. Still, McGill managed to counter Laval’s hot shooting and ended the second quarter ahead by a score of 43-41.
The second half started just as the first had, with Whyne sinking a three to get McGill’s wheels rolling. The freshman shot 3-6 from three on the night, putting up a 17-point performance.
“I’m a good shooter, you know, so I like to shoot threes,” Whyne said. “First semester, I had a bad start, [but] now I’m getting adjusted, [and] I’m getting in the groove.”
While the rookie’s successful shooting gave McGill fans a hint of the team’s future, the two active seniors showed what talent the team will miss next season. In the third quarter, Daoust, who finished with a game-high 23 points, added a deep three, before Cadogan garnered cheers from the crowd in the packed Love Competition Hall with an emphatic block at the other end of the court. A steal by Whyne and a subsequent layup capped off the third quarter with McGill up by seven.
The fourth quarter played out much like the third with a dominant 17-4 stretch that gave McGill a comfortable lead. Daoust hit a three-pointer in the dying seconds of his final regular-season game, quickly extinguishing Laval’s comeback attempt to give McGill its ninth win of the season.
McGill must now prepare for its first game of the RSEQ playoffs: A Feb. 27 semi-final against the crosstown rival Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins.
“We’re playing a whole different team against UQAM on Wednesday, and they’re a tough team […] because they’re very aggressive,” McGill Head Coach David DeAveiro said. “Sometimes, we struggle with those kinds of teams, but we’ll get two days of preparation, and we’ll be ready to play.”
Moment of the game
Early in the second quarter, second-year point guard JJ Hamel-Carey made a well-executed no-look pass to set up a Daoust layup, bringing the fans to their feet.
“My body’s sore, and I’m feeling old. Basketball’s been great to me […], and it’s been an incredible five years, but I think everything eventually runs its course, and I’m happy with the way things have gone.” – Noah Daoust, post-game, on his five years playing McGill basketball.
First-year guard Anthony Fisiru had a quietly-productive night, recording a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.