A record-setting 1,204-person crowd saw sophomore centre Noah Daoust spearhead McGill’s 76-69 victory over Laval in the semi-finals of the RSEQ Final Four. Redmen Head Coach DeAveiro strongly emphasized the raucous atmosphere and the talent on display.
“This is the way it should be on campus I think.” DeAveiro said. “The energy in this building is unbelievable—your work has to be done on practice, because when they are on the floor they cannot hear you [due to the noise]. You have great teams in this province, great players in this league. Unfortunately you have to wait for the playoffs to have crowds like this.”
The best and the worst of the Redmen were on display in the first half; they struggled to make shots and protect the paint.
“We had a great start, and then had a bump in the road, where [we did not shoot well],” DeAveiro said. ‘[…] Early we had breakdowns [….]we forgot to switch. We wanted to protect the paint a little bit more, but they got open layups.”
Indeed, McGill only shot 28 per cent from the field in the first half, although tenacious offensive rebounding from junior guard Dele Ogundokun, junior forward Francois Bourque and junior guard Michael Peterkin helped to hold Laval to a 29-27 lead. Rouge et Or guard Alexandre Leclerc was particularly difficult to guard when he was dribbling past screens. He finished with 19 points and went 5-13 from the three-point line.
Laval started to pull away in the third quarter. Then, Daoust stepped up. He devastated the Laval defence by screening and keeping the opposition off-balance with clever cuts and rolls into space.
“ I tried [rolling to the basket] in the first half,” Daoust explained. “But they changed up the ball screen defence, so I would keep popping out […] to catch them off guard, and it kept leaving me open.”
Daoust shot 5-6 from the three point line and finished with 19 points. He also acted as a spy in the paint for the McGill defence, which was far more effective at cutting off baseline drives to the basket in the third and fourth quarters.
“I feel confident coming from the weak side and helping,” Daoust explained. “The guy I was guarding was not really a shooter so I could spy in the key a lot.”
In the fourth quarter, McGill blew past Laval—their passing was calm and precise, and helped initiate many transition points. The shooting was lights out. MCGill will be buoyed going into the RSEQ final against UQAM for the RSEQ on Saturday at 7 p.m., where they will also be playing for a berth in the CIS National Championship
Stat of the Game
McGill shot 53 per cent from the field in the second half, in comparison with 28 per cent in the first half.
“He gave us a lift when we needed it […] we needed one guy to get going and the rest of our guys could feed off his confidence and get going.”- DeAveiro on Daoust’s inspiring performance
Play of the game
Midday through the fourth quarter, Daoust, acting as a spy in the paint, came from the weak side to athletically swat away a Laval player’s attempt on the basket.