The conference-leading McGill Martlets faced off against the struggling Bishop’s Gaiters on Saturday at Love Competition Hall. Despite a sloppy start, the Martlets controlled the game in the second half, and finished off with a decisive 72-31 victory over the Gaiters to extend their winning-streak to three.
McGill’s first field goal came from a deep three by second year point guard Dianna Ros. After an unsuccessful drive by first-year forward Mariam Sylla past two Gaiter defenders, the Martlets regained the offensive board, and kicked the ball out to Ros with the shot clock running down. She knocked down the bucket, scoring two of her nine points on the afternoon. She also added a game-high five assists in the victory.
“I was just trying to be aggressive, and that’s it,” Ros said after the game.
As usual, Sylla was a force to be reckoned with in Saturday’s contest. She dominated on offence, scoring 15 points and pulling down seven rebounds. She has now scored double-digit points in each of the past nine games, and has become a staple for the Martlets on both ends of the court. Head Coach Ryan Thorne complemented Sylla’s effort.
“Mariam Sylla is always going to do a good job inside, and on the glass,” Thorne said. “She hit some nice shots from the perimeter, too.”
McGill struggled on offence in the first quarter, scoring only 13 points in the first 10 minutes. Nevertheless, hard defence in the paint forced the Gaiters to take low-percentage perimeter shots. In the second quarter, the Martlets tightened up their defence, and allowed just one Bishop’s bucket while racking up 17 points of their own. McGill finished the first half leading 30-15.
The Martlets stepped out on the court in the second half looking like a completely different squad than the one that exited after the second quarter. Good offensive ball movement, leading to open shots and hard drives in the paint, gave McGill some easy chances. They converted more often than not, and extended their advantage to 49-19 by the end of the third.
With a commanding lead in the fourth quarter, the Martlets turned to their bench for points. Coach Thorne was quite pleased with his subtitutes’ production.
“Someone that impressed me a lot was [third-year guard] Abena Addo,” he said. “She came in, and she worked hard on both ends. … [Third-year center] Valerie L’Ecuyer also did the same thing; so for me, that’s just a reason to give them some minutes over the next couple of games, and let me see how much they can do.”
The bench contributed 20 points in the fourth quarter alone, en route to the Martlets 72-31 victory.
The Martlets have just two games remaining in the regular season before the RSEQ semifinals on Feb. 27. Thorne spoke about the message he’s sending to his team as the playoffs loom.
“I think the message that we tried to give them during this game was to play a certain level of excellence from [start to finish]. [This] is what we’re going to be preaching over the next couple of games and into the playoffs,” he said. “We can’t change our level [of play] depending on [our opponent]. We have to play at this level and above, no matter whom it is.”
The Martlets will be looking to clinch home court advantage in the playoffs in their home regular season finale against Laval on Feb. 21.