A statement win on Feb. 1 kept the McGill Redmen basketball team (9-2) firmly in first place of the RSEQ, as they downed the second-place Université Laval Rouge et Or (6-4) in decisive fashion by a score of 103-81.
Utilizing their deep bench and array of sharpshooters, the Redmen broke the 100-point mark for the fourth time this season. Fourth-year centre Noah Daoust led the way with 24 points and nine rebounds.
Fans crowding Love Competition Hall were treated to a back-and-forth first quarter. The Rouge et Or countered every Redmen basket, resulting in a total of 11 lead changes. McGill’s run and gun tempo clashed with Laval’s intense, athletic full court press, but the scoreboard at the end of the first frame read in McGill’s favour, 23-20.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Redmen Head Coach David DeAveiro said.
Introducing a formidable zone defence early in the second quarter, Laval tried to swing the game in their direction. The first McGill possession of the frame ended in a shot clock violation that had the Laval bench on its feet. However, next time down the floor, fifth-year Redmen guard Dele Ogundokun drained one of his four threes en route to 20 points on the night, sparking a 15-4 McGill run. McGill entered halftime up 48-37.
A fresh McGill team came out of the halftime gate with a pair of back-to-back three pointers. By the time Laval called its first timeout after yet another McGill three, the Redmen lead had been extended to 25 points—the game’s largest margin.
“[You] just keep going, wave after wave, and eventually they’ll wear down,” fourth-year guard Alex Paquin said.
Laval withstood McGill’s pressure in the third period, cutting the Redmen lead to 19 by the end of the frame. The Rouge et Or carried the same energy into the fourth, and forced DeAveiro to call a quick timeout to re-gather his Redmen. But the aggressive Rouge et Or didn’t let up, slashing the lead to eight points.
“We struggled, we just couldn’t get a stop […] but sometimes you just have to grind it out,” DeAveiro said. “You dig your heels in and say OK, we’re just going to see what happens and run our stuff and defend.”
A trio of critical three-pointers from Ogundokun and one from Daoust with five minutes left put an end to any Laval comeback hopes once and for all, restoring a comfortable lead for McGill.
“I’m in my fifth year, I’ve been here a while, so these are situations that I’ve been through,” Ogundokun said. “[These are] times that the veteran guys can step up for the young guys [who] might be struggling.”
Fellow fifth-year Francois Bourque added 10 points and seven rebounds in the Redmen winning effort, while Laval’s Frantson Demosthene led the way for the Rouge et Or with 22 points and eight rebounds.
On Feb. 3, the Redmen ventured into Rouge et Or territory for the second half of the home-and-away series. The Redmen, spurred on by 44 combined points from Ogundokun, Daoust, and fifth-year guard Jenning Leung, downed the Rouge et Or 68-61. McGill’s next home game is on Feb. 17, when they will host the Bishop’s University Gaiters.
Moment of the Game
After Laval cut McGill’s lead down to eight points in the fourth quarter, fifth-year guard and team co-captain Dele Ogundokun drained back-to-back threes with six minutes remaining to secure McGill’s victory.
“We can’t be content with every lead. Even going into halftime, we had a lead but going into the new half, it’s 0-0. We just gotta keep pushing it. And we know that 20 points can go to 10 points real quick, so we try to push 20 to 30 and keep the lead going.” – Fifth-year guard Dele Ogundokun on closing out games and putting an end to the Laval comeback
Shooting from distance played a key role in this battle—McGill hit 15 three-pointers on 38 attempts, while Laval only connected on three of their 20 attempts.