a, Men's Varsity, Sports

Young Redmen squad falters in crunch time

McGill Redmen

Bishops Gaiters

“We don’t know how to play when we’re winning a game,” Redmen Head Coach David DeAverio said after a devastating 60-59 loss to the Bishop’s Gaiters Saturday night. The Redmen (0-1) couldn’t find the net in the final 30 seconds, squandering a seven-point lead over the final minutes of the fourth to the Gaiters (1-0), who clawed back to take a one-point lead with 12 seconds remaining on a three-pointer from senior Majid Naji.

The game snapped the Redmen’s 13-game regular season home winning streak, which dated back to January 10, 2013 and marked their first loss to Bishop’s in over a year.

While the Redmen led the game throughout, they couldn’t find their killer instinct to put away the feisty Gaiters. Turnovers and missed opportunities down the stretch spelled trouble for the Redmen, who shot two of six from the charity stripe in the final minute.

“Our issue is the lack of concentration when we go to the line,” DeAverio explained.

Freshman forward Noah Daoust was effective off the bench for the Redmen, with 11 points and six rebounds, but a pair of missed free throws at the end will no doubt haunt him.

“It was very disappointing for me,” Daoust said. “I felt like I let everyone down, but I talked to coach this morning and he told me to keep my head up and just focus on the next game. It sucks to lose like that, but we have 15 more games to play and I’d rather win in March than in November.”

Second year point guard Jenning Leung logged significant minutes off the bench, particularly in the second half. He certainly made the most of them.

“I thought Jenning deserved the minutes,” DeAverio said. “He played well [and] I thought Ave [Bross] was struggling […] so we stuck with Jenning [….] I’m hoping one of these guys steps up and takes that role, but for now we’ll just play the situation.”

Without former co-captain Simon Bibeau, who graduated this past year, senior shooting guard Vincent Dufort has been called upon to be a leader both on and off the court for the young Redmen. Dufort scored a team-high 13 points, but a turnover and a missed jumper in the final seconds proved costly for McGill. The game will have to be a learning experience for Dufort and this young team, who will have to grow from the tough loss.

“We don’t have the fourth year Simon Bibeau on the floor at the end of the game to take everyone in and take control,” DeAverio said. “We’re playing young guys in those situations and we’re going to make mistakes. Hopefully we make more now than we do in February.”

While DeAverio doesn’t see the team’s first loss affecting the standings in February, the Redmen will certainly be looking forward to Jan. 10, when they head out to Bishop’s for a game that will almost certainly have post-season implications. If McGill can bounce back and win three straight games before heading into the winter break, this loss will be nothing more than an afterthought, but the Redmen certainly have their work cut out for them as they head to UQÀM (0-1) on Nov. 13.

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