Diarra leads Martlets to RSEQ playoff berth

Martlet Basketball (7–8) continued their fantastic form on Feb. 15, defeating the Concordia Stingers (4–10) by a score of 60–57 at home. Fifth-year transfer centre Sirah Diarra led the way with 14 points and 11 assists as McGill prevailed in a tight game that featured 39 turnovers and 10 lead changes. This is the Martlets’ fifth win in six games, and improved their season record against the Stingers to 4–0. With the victory, they secured a spot in the RSEQ playoffs. 

“It’s not necessarily the sweep that was special, it’s special because that [game] is where we just clinched the playoffs,” Head Coach Ryan Thorne said. “They were battling for a playoff position, and we needed to stop them right here. That is what is most important.”

The Martlets started the game strong defensively, keeping Concordia scoreless for the first three minutes. McGill raced out to an early 4–0 lead, but a series of missed shots allowed the away side back into the game, and the Martlets found themselves trailing 17–14 at the end of the first quarter. 

McGill continued to struggle offensively, trailing for most of the second quarter due to precise three-point shooting from the Stingers. The home side responded well, however, capitalizing on their size and physicality to dominate in the paint. Diarra scored off of her own offensive rebounds on consecutive possessions to regain the lead, and the Martlets entered halftime leading 30–28. 

The third quarter mirrored the second, with McGill controlling the lane and playing stifling defence. The Martlets looked poised to run away with the game on several occasions, but numerous costly turnovers kept Concordia in the contest. The Stingers then hit multiple three-pointers to go up 44–43 heading into the fourth quarter. 

Both teams went into the final quarter on defensive lockdown; with nearly four minutes gone, McGill had scored the only basket. Finally, the home side found a breakthrough. With five minutes left to play, Diarra materialized out of nowhere to block an open layup, before dishing the ball to first-year forward Nadege Pluviose who scored through heavy contact. Pluviose took over from there, and after a couple of tough shots, the Martlets found themselves up by six, with the score at 52–46. 

A late surge from Concordia, fueled by outstanding three-point shooting, cut the McGill lead to one. The Martlets remained resolute though, and with 30 seconds left to play, fifth-year guard Geraldine Cabillo-Abante drained a three as the shot clock expired, putting the Martlets up by four. Another steal and free throw saw the Martlets walk away victorious. Despite stand out performances from Diarra and Pluviose, Thorne stressed that the win was a team effort. 

“I think we have greater depth,” Thorne said. “If you look at the numbers, their top players played 40, 35, 32 minutes, and that’s a lot of minutes to be playing out there.”

The Martlets aim to finish the regular season strong against UQÀM at home on Feb. 20. A win is likely to give the Martlets the third seed and an easier schedule in the playoffs. 

 

Moment of the Game

Fifth-year guard Geraldine Cabillo-Abante beat the shot clock with a deep three to put the Martlets up by four with 25 seconds left, securing the win. 

Quotable

We just kept subbing people in and our depth came through in the end.” – Head Coach Ryan Thorne on the team’s effort. 

Stat Corner

The Martlets set the tone early on defence by recording three steals and a forced shot-clock violation, while not allowing a single shot during their first four defensive sequences of the game. 

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