QUEBEC CITY – On the second night of a back-to-back, Friday, the Rouge et Or avenged an 88-69 loss suffered the night earlier in Montreal with a 78-68 win. By doing so, Laval handed the CIS sixth-ranked McGill Redmen their first loss of the season and improved to 2-4 on the season.
Simon Bibeau was out for a second game in a row with job interviews down in New York. McGill’s offense didn’t suffer much in the first half scoring 34 points on excellent ball movement. 12 of their 14 baskets were assisted, and on some possessions, it seems like the ball never even touched the floor.
Defense however was a problem for them as their late rotations left some Rouge et Or players wide open for high-quality shots. Laval converted four out of five three-pointers in the first quarter to grab the lead, and stayed on top thanks to huge minutes from Thibaud Dezutter. He had nine points and five rebounds at the half (finished 14 and 7) with Laval ahead 37-34.
Then the home team jumped out on a 7-0 run after the break and never looked back. “I don’t think we’ve ever been in a position where we’ve trailed [by a large margin] in the third or fourth quarter this season”, McGill’s coach Dave DeAveiro said. “We got away from things we are doing well usually, couldn’t execute on offense, and that will serve as a learning experience.”
Vincent Dufort and François Bourque, who combined for 50 points the night earlier, were limited to 14 and 12 points respectively.
The Redmen stopped moving the ball, and fouls started piling up for them. The Rouge et Or went to the line 33 times in the game (24 in the second half), and converted on 26 of those occasions.
Laval’s coach on the other end gave credit to his defense. “We got tougher as the game went on and stayed disciplined”, Jacques Paiement Jr said. “They got tired I think and we were able to get valuable stops.”
The team’s offense was not too bad either, as five different players scored in double figures. Karl Demers-Belanger and Boris Hadzimuratovic, especially, helped close the deal for the home team. The six-foot-nine center scored nine of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, helped by 15 points and five assists on the game for the point guard, as Laval was headed for an impressive 78-68 victory.
“Tonight they showed everybody that they are a better team than their record”, coach DeAveiro said. “They were better than us tonight: they executed on the offensive end better, defensively they were tougher.”
“It feels good to get a win, especially in the way we did it”, coach Paiement said. “It was really a team effort. We moved the ball well, executed, and it paid off. Now we prepare for our next game and we can’t get too comfortable, we are not there yet.”
The Rouge et Or’s win combined with an UQAM loss (64-53 against Concordia) on Friday night, allowed them to claim third place in a tie with the Stingers. The two teams will actually face off next Thursday in Quebec City.
As for the Redmen, they still have sole possession of the top spot in the RSEQ. They play their next game on January 23rd also against the Concordia Stingers.
NPH TOP PERFORMERS
- Boris Hadzimuratovic: 17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks
- Karl Demers-Belanger: 15 points, 5 assists
- Vincent Dufort: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
- François Bourque: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists