Basketball, Sports

McGill basketball hosts double-header home opener

On Nov. 17, the McGill men’s and women’s basketball teams returned to the court for their home opening games against the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM).

Martlets vs UQAM 

55-48 (L)

The Martlets (0–4) opened up the evening’s play against the Citadins (3–0) facing some tough defence from UQÀM’s high-powered frontcourt. Despite eight points from third-year guard Emma-Jane Scotten to bolster McGill’s scoring, UQÀM took the first quarter, outscoring the Martlets 17-10.

The second quarter was a different story, as the Martlets buckled down and played hard-nosed defence to bring themselves back into the game. Scotten took over ball-handling duties as the Martlets drove into the key, drawing fouls and nabbing defensive rebounds to dictate the pace of play. Second-year forward Charlotte Guerin snagged many of her game-leading 14 rebounds in McGill’s comeback effort. The half ended 25-21 with McGill in the lead.

The third opened with both teams playing to their respective strengths, vying for the game’s momentum. McGill committed to perimeter play while UQÀM stuck to its strong frontcourt, whose efforts were met by Guerin and fourth-year centre Amélie Rochon

In a post-game interview with The McGill Tribune, Rochon stressed that the Martlets’ comeback relied on slowing down the Citadin bigs.

“Getting control of the rebounds, especially on the defensive end, to stop them from getting second chances […] really helped us keep our momentum,” Rochon said.

The Martlets’ strong third quarter pressured UQÀM to change its tactics to start the fourth, implementing a full-court press to force McGill’s ball handlers into making mistakes. UQÀM’s defence created several turnovers, highlighting the Martlets’ lack of a floor general and allowing the Citadins to grab a clutch lead. Despite back-to-back threes from guards Jessica Salanon and Daniella Mbengo, the Citadins’ defence overpowered the Martlets and UQÀM took the game 55-48.

Scotten, who played a team-high 38 out of 40 minutes, expressed her concern about the team’s ball-handling vulnerabilities. 

“We have been struggling with our turnovers this season, so we definitely need to work on taking care of the ball […] not rushing it,” Scotten told the Tribune. “That’s where we started to drop in the fourth quarter.”

Redbirds vs UQÀM 

87-76 (L)

The defending RSEQ champion Redbirds (0–4) took on the Citadins (1–2) in a game that echoed that of the Martlets in intensity and excitement. McGill came out the gate strong with steadfast defence and a solid presence on the boards from third-year centre Haris Elezovic. Despite the promising start, efficient shooting and fouls drawn by UQÀM gave the Citadins a 17-13 lead to close the first quarter.

The second quarter, however, marked a crushing point differential as the Citadins outscored the Redbirds 29-14 over 10 minutes. Due to UQÀM’s high-flying pace, electric shooting splits, and turnover generations, they took the half 46-27.

In a post-game chat with the Tribune, sixth-year guard Sam Jenkins spoke to the Redbirds’ lack of scoring opportunities. 

 “The second quarter was tough because we had a string of really bad mistakes […] that led to points in transition, and we couldn’t stop the bleeding there, but that changed in the third.”

The third marked a positive change for McGill as Elezovic, Jenkins, and fourth-year wing Zachary Lavoie-Toure worked hard to bring the Redbirds back into the game. Despite a highlight reel of plays from UQÀM, McGill buckled down with defensively oriented play to steal the quarter away and bring the game within reach—64-54 with UQÀM still in the lead.

The fourth was defined by a similar mentality from the Redbirds as they worked to bring it back within four, punctuated by a hyped-up three from first-year guard Samuel Chaput. Despite McGill’s remarkable efforts, UQÀM doubled down, winning the game 87-76.

Jenkins, who scored a game-high 24 points, knows his team has more in the tank. 

 “We haven’t played a full 40 minutes yet—we haven’t played hard the entire way through,” Jenkins told the Tribune. “We’ve shown we can really play that way, we just have to do it the full game.”

Both the Martlets and Redbirds hope to bounce back on Nov. 26 against Laval (1–2) in another double-header at home.

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