Forward Gabriela Hebert surveys the passing lane. (Alexandra Allaire / McGill Tribune)

Basketball: Silver and Sylla lay the smackdown on Laval

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The McGill Martlets (12-2) cruised to a 72-51 victory over the Laval Rouge et Or at Love Competition Hall Thursday evening. The team’s penultimate home game was McGill’s sixth straight victory in the RSEQ, and marked the fourth time this year that the Martlets defeated the Rouge et Or.

The reigning RSEQ champs stormed the court from the starting tip with their zone defence, going on a 13-2 run in the first three minutes. Laval bounced back by attacking the Martlet zone defence with crisp ball movement, and focused on getting the ball into the paint. In the second half of the game, McGill switched up their game-plan by moving away from the zone and playing a more man-to-man defence, thus forcing Laval into poor passes and even worse shots.

On the offensive side, the Martlets relied on the interior combo of freshman Jennifer Silver and sophomore Mariam Sylla. McGill had shooters spread around the three-point arc to ensure enough spacing for the dynamic duo to operate.  Although the home team had just an eight point lead at half, the Martlets ran away with the game in the third quarter by emphasizing defensive stops coupled with quick outlet passes, ultimately leading to easy transition buckets.

“That was our best four quarters we played all season,” Martlet Head Coach Ryan Thorne said. “That was the best game we have played so far.”

Silver, a reserve forward, was key for the squad Thursday, as she dominated the paint for easy lay-ups and offensive rebounds. Silver finished with a team-high 15 points.  Laval had no answer for the rookie all game, as Silver racked up rebounds and easy jump-shots. Sylla used her athleticism and face-up game throughout the match, chipping in 13 points in the victory. Fifth-year forward Hélène Bibeau, and third-year guard Dianna Ros both played vital roles as well in the McGill win, dropping 10 points apiece.

“We put people in positions to be more successful,” Thorne said. “We tweaked a few things, and the girls benefited from that. Overall, everyone played well.”

McGill shot an outstanding 42.6 per cent from the field and 87.5 per cent from the charity strike, while Laval recorded a measly 28.4 per cent from the field. With the playoffs on the horizon, Thorne insists that there is still progress to be made.

“We have a couple more things to do better,” Thorne said. “It’s just about preparation for us. We have to make sure we are better than the other team in the playoffs.”

McGill’s week did not end with Thursday night’s matchup, as they traveled to Lennoxville to face the Bishop Gaiters on Friday night. The team came out on top with a 52-37 victory that saw Silver and Sylla once again leading the way with 14 and 12 points respectively. Sylla was a force to be reckoned with on the boards once more, as she tallied 11 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the year. The Martlets’ next game will be against UQAM on Thursday, Feb. 20 at Love Competition Hall. The match will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will be McGill’s final home game of the season before the RSEQ playoffs.