From Oct. 12 to Oct. 14, the Martlets hosted the 24th annual Redbird Classic, featuring McGill, University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBC Okanagan), Ryerson University, and Bishop’s University. The Martlets beat UBC Okanagan 96-51 on Oct. 12 but fell 80-79 to the Ryerson Rams on Oct. 13.
The Martlets started out strong against Ryerson, scoring the first basket and continuing their solid start with four three-pointers in the first minutes. They managed to balance these outside shots with some beautiful post play and showed off the depth of their bench. Head Coach Ryan Thorne made full use of preseason play, giving each player at least a full quarter of playing time.
“It’s funny [that the team has such good depth] because we started out the season with three injured players and nine people playing,” fourth-year guard Geraldine Cabillo-Abante said. “It’s definitely nice to have a full rotation now.”
Finishing up the first half, however, Ryerson was in the lead with a score of 41-40. The turn of fortunes was largely a result of some strong moves from Ryerson in the key that nobody from McGill could shut down.
In the third quarter, McGill moved the ball around the three-point line looking for shots to open up, but they were unsuccessful and only ended up flirting with shot clock violations. Though the Martlets matched Ryerson’s tight defence on the other side of the court, Ryerson widened the scoring gap by the end of the third quarter to 58-52.
Although things were looking grim with the Martlets down 14 points midway through the final quarter, McGill’s full-court press gave them a fighting chance in the last minutes of the game. The defensive tactic is fitting the McGill team well.
“I feel like that’s my comfort zone,” second-year forward Kamsi Ogbudibe said. “I’m really long, so I get a lot of deflections. People don’t expect me to be so long, so I get a touch, and then my teammates are there to help.”
Ogbudibe dominated the turnover game, and she contributed everywhere else on the box score, too, as she finished with 11 points, five rebounds, and three steals.
The Martlets stayed focused and intense throughout the game, but, in the closing quarter, they brought a new ferocity to the floor.
“I was on the [bench], and I was so into it,” Cabillo-Abante said. “Defensively, the intensity, everybody just wanting the ball and playing together.”
The team hustled to close the 14-point gap in impressive fashion, but the Martlets could not get the final point necessary to tie up the game, ultimately losing 80-79. Despite their tough loss, the team’s future is bright.
“We’re getting better, from the first game to now,” Ogbudibe said. “We just need to do a better job of closing out. We’ll just keep growing.”
With six new players on the roster, Cabillo-Abante noted the importance of the preseason for their growth as a team.
“[There are] a lot of new girls on the team,” Cabillo-Abante said. “[We have] six vets and six rookies. From our first game to our game just now, we’ve already improved a lot from just starting to trust each other, but we still have a long way to go.”
It seems this improvement is something to watch for when looking toward the rest of the season.
“I’m pretty confident for what’s coming up this season,” Cabillo-Abante said. “We’ll just keep getting better.”
“Steph’s [Stephanie Mondou] last three, she chucked it up, and I was like ‘Oh, here we go.’ It banked [in,] and I was like ‘Okay, let’s go!’” – Second-year forward Kamsi Ogbudibe on Mondou’s shot-clock-beating three-pointer in the game’s closing seconds.
Moment of the Game
With 24 seconds left in the game and the buzzer sounding, third-year guard Stephanie Mondou hit a three-point shot to move the score to 78-77 for Ryerson.
Out of its 79 total points, McGill made 30 points off of turnovers.