Redbirds basketball (0–3) faced off against the Bishop Gaiters (2–0) in a thrilling home opener on Nov. 9 at McGill’s Love Competition Hall. The Redbirds had a rough start, ending the first half down 40-21, however, the team showed their tenacity, fighting to the very end,scoring 29 points in the fourth quarter and narrowing the loss to 77-69.
Starting off the first quarter, the Redbirds were struggling to sink shots, with McGill’s first point coming from first-year forward Saransh Padhy with 7:48 left in the quarter. Despite falling behind early on, the team continued to play energetically throughout the half, putting up a very physical game and a solid defense. Forward Zachary Lavoie-Toure made a tough midrange fadeaway shot that amped up the crowd, but the Gaiters remained the more aggressive team, with 15 free-throw attempts at the break compared to the Redbirds’ four. With the addition of their six threes in the half, the Redbirds faced a 19-point deficit at the break.
Coming back with a bang, the second half started off with an impressive steal-dunk combo from Padhy, followed by two fast break layups from point guard Sean Herscovitch. This ignited a clear shift in momentum for the Redbirds, who increased their energy and put the defensive pressure on the Gaiters.
As the Redbirds rolled out of the locker room for the second half, assistant coach Michael Moody encouraged the team to to turn up the aggression on defense, and avoid giving up any open shots.
“We knew we had to climb back,” Herscovitch told The Tribune. “We had to pick up the intensity on defense and start executing better on offense. [As a point guard,] I have to hold my guys accountable and be the coach on the court. Be that second voice for the guys.”
Although both Herscovitch and Joshua Soifer, a recent graduate from the University of Oxford and current McGill law student, put up 20 points, the Gaiters held their ground and handed McGill a 77-69 loss.
In an interview with The Tribune, Moody provided some insight into the team’s mindset going into the second half of the game that helped them turn the energy up.
“[We had to] step up, you know,” Moody explained. “We were doing a good job of executing, we were still getting good shots, we just weren’t knocking them down.”
He emphasized that moving forward, the team would have to focus on playing their A-game right off the bat rather than waiting until the last quarter.
“One thing you can expect from us is to be gritty and give it a tough game,” he said. “And I think we did that tonight.”
Looking to the future, Herscovitch explained the team would not be deterred by the loss.
“There’s a lot of positives that we saw in the second half,” Herscovitch said. “We saw that we’re very capable of playing defense […] of finishing out possessions on defense, grabbing the rebound and getting the ball up quick.”
The Redbirds lost 79-62 against the Concordia Stingers on Nov. 11 and will play next against the Laval Rouge et Or on Nov. 18.
Moment of the Game
With 14 seconds left on the clock, first-year guard Benjamin Onyenwosa drilled a three-pointer on a pass from Joshua Soifer, cutting the deficit to five and causing the crowd to erupt in cheers.
“I knew we had to keep pushing and being aggressive. If you start losing your edge there, then you’ve basically given up.”
–– First-year forward Joshua Soifer on his mindset going into the second half
The Redbirds’ top scoring players were Sean Herscovitch and Joshua Soifer with 20 points each, followed by Zachary Lavoie-Toure with eight points.