The McGill Men’s Basketball team (8–2) lost in heartbreaking fashion on Jan. 18 in an electrifying home game against the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) Citadins with a final score of 81–75. This loss did not reflect the heart-wrenching efforts from both sides that led to a thrilling eight lead changes throughout the game.
Neither team had any offensive momentum at the beginning of the first quarter, as both sides forced turnovers and switched screens exceptionally, making easy baskets hard to come by. Only third-year forward Levi Londole made a significant offensive impact, with an impressive seven of the team’s 16 first quarter points. McGill finished the slow-paced quarter trailing the Citadins, 17–16.
The second quarter saw a significant increase in pace, with both teams hitting their rhythm, increasing ball movement, sinking threes, and energizing an already rowdy crowd of 305 in the process. McGill used ball movement and a fast-paced, screen-centric offence, pushing the team into the lead with 36 points to the Citadins’ 32 at the end of the first half.
McGill’s dominance did not last, however, and sloppy ball handling and missed shots plagued the team in the second half.
“We didn’t [use] the ball particularly well today,” Head Coach David DeAveiro said. “I think we shot 19.4 per cent from three. It’s tough to win games where you don’t shoot the ball, especially for us. We’re not big, our game is shooting threes. But we turned it over 19 times and got out-rebounded.”
The third quarter saw an improvement for McGill. Londole put up a dominant defensive effort and scored six points, including a crowd-pleasing fast-break dunk. Third-year guard Jamal Mayali ended the quarter decisively with an and-one layup and an off-balance three-pointer in the last minute of the quarter to cut UQÀM’s lead to three, 59–56.
McGill came into the fourth quarter red-hot and overtook UQÀM midway through with a one-point lead, bringing the score to 66–65. But McGill’s luck turned with four minutes left in the quarter: Their defence suddenly fell to a flurry of threes, and careless ball handling led to several turnovers.
With three minutes remaining, the score was 70–66 UQÀM, and McGill broke under the pressure, fouling and turning the ball over consistently. Several time-outs and free throws later, McGill lost 81–75.
“I’m really confident, […] we’re still in first place,” third-year point-guard JJ Hamel-Carey said of McGill’s chances in the postseason. “It’s our second loss of the season, so we’re not going to hang our heads. It happens, it’s a small loss.”
McGill hopes to turn their luck around in their coming game against the Concordia Stingers (4–3) on Jan. 23.
Moment of The Game
With 15 seconds left in the third quarter, third-year guard Jamal Mayali sunk an off-balance three-pointer to bring McGill within three points of UQÀM, energizing the crowd and spiriting the team to come out strong in the fourth quarter.
“They were [hungrier] because they had something to prove because we had just beat them. So we were feeling good about ourselves, and they punched us in the face. We kind of responded, but we could have been better, and at the end of the game, they made a couple key plays that gave them the edge.” – Third-year point guard JJ Hamel-Carey on the mental aspect of the game.
JJ Hamel-Carey scored a season-high 16 points, going 7–11 for the entire game. He did this with an athletic slash-and-kick style of play that allowed him to drive to the rim effectively.