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U Sports basketball national championship recap

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After capturing the program’s first Bronze Baby—the national championship trophy—last season, the Martlets showed up from March 8-11 in Regina to defend their title. In their opening game at the U Sports national championships, McGill faced off against the McMaster University Marauders. The Martlets ended the first half down five points, but regained their footing in the second, spurred on by 10 points from fifth-year guard Frédérique Potvin. With a comfortable 55-39 final score, the Martlets booked themselves a spot in the semifinals against the first-seed Carleton Ravens.

McGill dominated the start of their matchup with Carleton, maintaining a steady lead through the first quarter. In the second period, the Ravens showed signs of life, but the Martlets were able to contain the outburst and rode into the halftime break ahead by six. After an even third quarter, McGill sat atop a 42-35 lead, but the final period proved disastrous for the Martlets: The Ravens effectively kept them off the scoreboard, with McGill’s only two points coming from a pair of free throws. Carleton tied the game with 86 seconds remaining, then snatched up their first—and only—lead of the game with two seconds left to play. Unable to retaliate in the dying seconds, the Martlets were eliminated from title contention.

In the bronze medal game, the Martlets faced the second-seed University of Regina Cougars. McGill managed a three-point lead after the first period but were shaken by Regina’s 23-point second period. The Martlets lost further ground in the third, and entered the final period of play down 43-55. Facing a 10-point deficit with 83 seconds remaining, McGill rallied behind third-year wing Stéphanie Guinois-Côté, who sank two three-pointers to help her team land within two points of Regina. However, despite their best comeback efforts, the Martlets were unable to beat the clock, and the Cougars took the bronze medal game 66-63.



Entering the U Sports Final 8 tournament as the third seed, the McGill Redmen put up a decisive 88-57 win in their first-round matchup against the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds. The Redmen jumped ahead with an early 6-0 lead, but the Varsity Reds clawed their way back in, and the first quarter ended at a 16-16 deadlock. The second quarter proved pivotal for the McGill squad, as they put 29 points on the board—including a combined 22 from veterans Alex Paquin, Dele Ogundokun, and Sebastian Beckett. The Redmen maintained steady control for the rest of the game, earning themselves a spot in the semifinal.

In the second round, McGill tipped off against the University of Calgary Dinos. After suffering a 20-point defeat against Calgary in an October 2017 pre-season tournament, the Redmen were again unable to break down the strong Dinos defence in their nationals semi-final meeting. Calgary shot 39 per cent from the field and held the McGill hoopsters to four three-pointers on 32 attempts, handing the Redmen a 43-65 loss.  

The bronze medal match saw McGill face off against the Carleton Ravens—a Canadian basketball dynasty coming off their seventh consecutive national title. A monster 25-point second period put the Redmen ahead by 10, but the Ravens responded with 24 points in the third. A back-and-forth final quarter ended with the Ravens on top, 76-71. With their fourth-place finish, the 2017-18 Redmen tied the 2016-17 and 1976-77 squads for the program’s best-ever finishes.

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