The Martlets (1–7) faced off against the UQÀM Citadins (5–3) on Jan. 14 at McGill’s Love Competition Hall in a thrilling match-up. Though the score remained close throughout the game, the Martlets pulled ahead in the final seconds to secure a 57-55 victory—their first of the RSEQ season.
The first quarter saw a slightly rough start for the Martlets, with the Citadins scoring seven free throws and establishing an early lead. But McGill successfully incorporated three-point shots into their game strategy, racking up 18 points from six three-pointers throughout the match-up. Both teams put up solid defences, intercepting passes and recovering rebounds to gain possession. The plays intensified as the game went on, with both Martlets and Citadins fighting hard for each point to bring them closer to stealing the lead.
By the fourth quarter’s end, the score was tied at 55-55. After a brief McGill time-out with just nine seconds left on the clock, a layup by first-year guard Stephy Tchoukuiegno awarded the team the two-point lead needed to secure the win.
In an interview with The McGill Tribune, Tchoukuiegno explained that two falls she took early in the game presented a challenge, but she remained focused on performing her best.
“I was just in the mindset of ‘play your game, don’t be stressed, and do what you’ve gotta do,’” Tchoukuiegno said. She also noted the importance of lively spectators in tight games like this one.“It feels good to have our crowd here supporting us.”
The win was especially meaningful for the team, as they lost both of their previous games against UQÀM this season, with the most recent loss being only two days prior.
According to the team’s head coach, Rikki Bowles, the Martlets went into the rematch with a driven mindset in light of the previous losses.
“Our expectation—what I told the athletes in the locker room—was to win this game,” Bowles told the Tribune. “I know it has been a struggle at times, but I thought we came in more confident than in the past, more prepared, we knew what [the other team was] going to do, and it was just about going and getting it done.”
Martlet fourth-year guard Jessica Salanon mentioned that the team’s performance reflected what they had learned from playing UQÀM in the past.
“All the games we’ve got against them [were] tight games and we felt like we gave them the games,” Salanon explained. “We made mistakes and that led them to win. So we knew that today, if we wanted to win, we [would] win.”
The Martlets will play next on Jan. 19 against the Laval Rouge et Or for their “Shoot for the Cure” game––a USports initiative to raise money for breast cancer research.
Moment of the Game
Midway through the third period, Daniella Mbengo intercepted a UQÀM pass and made a fastbreak play, out-running the Citadin defence and scoring a swift layup to ecstatic cheering from the crowd.
“[We’re] just going to appreciate it [….] The athletes work so hard, and this has been a long time coming. I will never take a win for granted, so we’re just going to enjoy this one.”
–– Head coach Rikki Bowles, on how the team will celebrate their win
The top-scoring players for McGill were Mbengo, with 11 points, alongside Kristy Awikeh and Tchoukuiegno, who both scored eight points.