Martlet Basketball (3–7) defeated the visiting Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) Citadins (4–5) by a single point, 54–53, in a hard-fought game on Jan. 18. This was a much-needed win for a struggling Martlet team, who started the new year with three consecutive losses, including one to the same UQÀM team a game prior. In this contest, however, stalwart defence and active rebounding, along with the late-game heroics of fifth-year guard Gladys Hakizimana, elevated the Martlets to victory.
A quick start to the game saw the Martlets up by five early, much to the delight of the packed crowd in Love Competition Hall. But, UQÀM was prepared to compete, quickly deploying an effective full-court press. McGill adjusted well in response and found themselves ahead 13–10 at the end of the quarter.
McGill’s defence stifled the Citadins in the second period, frequently stealing the ball or forcing shot clock violations, all while holding the Citadins to a frigid 18 per cent from the field. The Martlets went ahead by eight, their largest lead of the game, but a renewed full-court press led to a 9–0 run from the Citadins and a slim halftime lead, 23–21.
Entering the third period, McGill’s offensive rebounding kept them in the game, and another steal put McGill back in the lead. UQÀM began to hit their shots, however, and a dagger three-pointer looked to have McGill back peddling. The Martlets responded to the adversity, though, and entered the final period trailing by just two points, 39–37.
“I think it takes a little bit of poise [to win tough games],” Head Coach Ryan Thorne said. “Down the stretch, we made some mistakes, but there was some poise, there was some effort, and there was some commitment to playing tough defence.”
Winning games also takes making shots, however, and that is exactly what Hakizimana entered the fourth quarter prepared to do. A quick three-pointer opened Hakizimana’s scoring barrage, as she proceeded to hit a reverse layup and another three-pointer in quick succession to put McGill ahead 45–41. Two blocked shots, by second-year players Delphine Robitaille and Shayann Laguerre, respectively, looked to have the Martlets comfortably on their way to victory, ahead by eight points.
“I’ve been practicing those shots,” Hakizimana, who led all scorers with 20 points, said. “I know that as soon as I have an opportunity […] to shoot the three, I’ve got to be confident enough to take it and make it.”
UQÀM hit big shots too, however, eventually cutting the lead to a single point. With 8.9 seconds left in the game, the Citadins reclaimed possession and attempted a buzzer-beating three-pointer for the win, but the shot missed iron and the Martlets walked away with the victory, 54–53.
“[Winning takes] a lot of focus, a lot of [being] locked in, and a lot of communication,” Hakizimana said. “We’ve been focussing on a lot of communication but [also] a lot of listening to make sure we’re all on the same page, and I think that’s the big reason why we were able to [win].”
The Martlets will look to keep their momentum going on Jan. 23 and again at home Jan. 25 when they play cross-town rival Concordia (3–4).
Moment of the game
UQÀM looked poised to pull away from the Martlets until first-year guard Jessica Salanon found second-year forward Shayann Laguerre rolling to the rim where she muscled up a layup through contact. A smooth free throw completed the three-point play, tying the game 34–34 and helping McGill stay on track to victory.
“We go by three […] pillars: Head, heart, and hustle. All those three things showed themselves today[.] As long as we maintain those [three pillars], I think we have a chance of success.” – Head Coach Ryan Thorne on the lessons he wants his team to take away from the victory.
McGill secured an outstanding 17 offensive rebounds, which helped the Martlets score 28 points in the paint, double UQÀM’s total.