McGill Martlet basketball (10-6) ended regular season play on a high note, defeating the RSEQ no. 1 seed Laval Rouge et Or (15-1) 53-52 on Feb. 23. Despite a strong defensive effort from Laval, McGill took the win in front of the 212-member crowd. The Martlets had already secured their spot in the RSEQ championship semi-finals, but the victory kept them even in the standings with the Concordia Stingers.
McGill led 18-17 at the end of the first quarter, and the score remained close throughout the game with the Rouge et Or never holding more than a two-point lead. Both teams were strong defensively throughout the game, repeatedly forcing the offence to run down the shot clock.
“We played good defence,” first-year guard Trishia Villedrouin said. “We were helping each other out. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’re playing Concordia next week which will be a tough game, too. We’ll have to stick together again.”
A combination of strong teamwork and individual performances made the win possible for the Martlets. Fourth-year guard Gladys Hakizimana led McGill in scoring, going 4-6 from three with 24 of the Martlets’ 53 total points for the game. Meanwhile, Laval capitalized on free throws and turnovers: They did not miss a single free throw and added 23 points from turnovers. Despite Laval’s success on fast breaks and from the free-throw line, McGill still emerged victorious with a score of 53-52. Laval currently sits at the top of the U Sports national rankings and had not lost a game all season, making this win especially significant for the Martlets.
“I’m so proud of my team,” Villedrouin said. “We’ve never stuck together like this. We beat the number one team in Canada. That says a lot about our team.”
Building team chemistry and improving communication have been important factors in the Martlets’ recent success.
“We’ve had a tough season so far but, through team activities […], we’ve built a chemistry, and we’ve been having lots of discussions as a team which I think has helped a lot,” Villedrouin said. “Now, we’re starting to trust each other. It’s important from quarter one to the last quarter.”
This game also celebrated Black History Month. In a post-game speech, Head Coach Ryan Thorne praised the role of basketball in allowing him to continue his own education. He also used the moment to make a donation for a scholarship to the local organization Montreal United, which provides mentoring through sports.
“We are making new black history because of new opportunities,” Thorne said. “This is my chance to give back to the community and create more opportunities.”
McGill has won six of its last 10 matches. To earn their spot in the U Sports national championships, the Martlets must win the RSEQ championship tournament. They will face the Concordia Stingers (10-6) on Feb. 27 at John Dore Court in the semi-final round of the RSEQ playoffs.
Moment of the Game
At the end of the third quarter, second-year transfer guard Delphine Robitaille sunk a buzzer-beating three-point shot, giving the Martlets the lead heading into the final quarter.
“We’ve got to stick together again and play hard. We gave it our all today, and we’ve got to do the same thing next week.” – First-year guard Trishia Villedrouin on the upcoming RSEQ championship semi-finals against Concordia.
McGill made a total of seven three-point shots throughout the game. Three-pointers accounted for 40 per cent of McGill’s total points scored.