The clock struck midnight on the Redmen basketball season as third-seeded UQAM upset second-seeded McGill 75-72 on Wednesday night. Gregory St. Armand led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds, as the Citadins were able to overcome an early 10–2 deficit to advance to the RSEQ basketball finals against Concordia.
Having beaten UQAM three times in four meetings during the regular season, this will not be an easy loss to shake off for this Redmen team, who were hosting their first playoff home game in a decade. Despite outscoring UQAM in each of the first three quarters, McGill was unable to put the game out of reach and the Citadins took advantage, outscoring the Redmen 28-19 in the fourth quarter. A reason for UQAM’s dominance in the final frame was that McGill entered the penalty with 6:09 remaining in the game. As a result, UQAM took 11 more free throws than McGill in the fourth quarter. Down by two, rookie Te’jour Riley had a chance to win the game with a buzzer-beater three-point attempt, but missed just long of the net.
The Redmen struggled shooting the ball throughout the entire game, hitting a mere 36.4 per cent from the field in the second quarter. Compounding their shooting woes, they hit only two of 13 shots from beyond the arc, and 64.7 per cent from the charity stripe. Redmen Head Coach Dave DeAveiro reflected on the tough loss.
“I didn’t feel we played our best game. UQAM set the tone throughout with their size and strength. Down the stretch, they got to every loose ball and seemed to want it a little more,” DeAveiro said. “Our turnovers led to some easy scores for them but our inability to shoot the ball was evident last night. It’s been a problem for us all season, especially from the free throw line.”
Sophomore Karim-Sy Morissette scored a game-high 20 points, including seven in the final 2:37 that almost put the Redmen back on top. Another one of the three Redmen to score in double figures was rookie Aleksander Metrovic. With 14 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes of play, Metrovic was the Redmen’s most efficient player. He shot 66.7 per cent from the field, 75 per cent from the free throw line, and did not turn the ball over.
While the Redmen ended this season on a sour note, it was definitely a step in the right direction. Without star player Simon Bibeau for the entire season (he was out with a torn ACL), Morissette shouldered much of the scoring burden. Other players who emerged as key building blocks for the Redmen basketball program were Tristan Tremblay, Vince Dufort, and Te’jour Riley, with the latter adding a great deal of athleticism to the squad. Coach Deveiro singled out Aleks Mitrovic as the team’s “biggest asset” and said that “his leadership and experience helped us get through many tough stretches.”
First-year guard Ave Bross summed up the sentiment among the players.
“Every guy in this locker room has the same sick feeling about the way our season ended. At the end of the day we didn’t make the plays when we had to, and we came out on the losing side of a hard fought game,” Bross said. “That said, the off-season has started, and we are going to use that feeling to push ourselves to get better. Our goal is to win a National Championship, and while it won’t be easy, we are going to work day and night to improve, and we will stop at nothing in order to reach our goal.”
Vince Dufort agreed with Bross’ words and gave his thanks to fans for their support this season.
“I’d just like to thank our fans for coming out and supporting us this season. Seeing the stands packed with students means a lot to all of us players. Every time we step on the court, we wear the McGill ‘M’ with pride knowing the great institution and the students that we represent.”
The future looks bright for this budding McGill program. Nicholas Nishikawa is the only graduating player, and the experience gained this season will serve the young players on the squad very well.