Basketball, Sports

Redbirds bring Lengvari Cup home in narrow 58-57 win against Stingers

Love Competition Hall was packed for the annual Lengvari Cup as McGill’s Redbirds (12-0) faced off against the Concordia Stingers (6-6) in an enthralling game. 

Second-year Haris Elezovic opened up the scoring with a layup, but the Stingers quickly answered with a three-pointer. The first quarter featured an intense defensive press on both sides, keeping the score low until the pace quickened and a successful turnover by Sam Jenkins helped Sidney Gauthier land a reverse layup with under a minute left. The first quarter ended with a two-point lead for Concordia at only 12-10.

The Stingers were the first to strike in the second quarter due to a McGill foul that gave away two free throws. But Elezovic helped to bring the Redbirds’ score up with a quick layup, then daringly blocked an attempt by the Stingers, earning him the cheers of the crowd. 

With less than four minutes left in the first half, forward Kevin Li sank a three-pointer, bringing the Redbirds even with the Stingers at 21-21. However, the Stingers quickly responded and by halftime the score was 28-21 for Concordia.

McGill returned from halftime rejuvenated, ready to face the Stingers and the invigorated crowd. Jenkins scoring first seemed to be a good omen for McGill, but the third quarter proved to be a tough battle.

The Stingers brought their score up to 35-23 with a series of successful shots. The Redbirds fought back with Elezovic scoring off of a bullet pass from teammate Cameron Elliot, followed by a layup from Jenkins. However, the Stingers continued to gain headway, leading McGill 48-30 with just under three minutes of the quarter left. 

Luckily for the crowd, the Redbirds were not discouraged by this gap as a dunk from Zachary Lavoie-Toure, a three-pointer from Jenkins, and five points from Li allowed the team to reach the fourth quarter down by only 10 points. 

In an interview with The McGill Tribune, Li recalled how he approached the final quarter.

“We have a group of guys that know how to win so I wasn’t worried about the score even when we were down by like 15 in the fourth quarter,” Li said. “Everyone on the team contributed [to] the win.”

The smooth gameplay of the Stingers in the fourth quarter was no match for the Redbirds’ determination as they slowly but surely closed the gap with points from Jenkins, Quarry Whyne, and a crowd-pleasing three from Jamal Mayali

With three minutes left and a score of 56-52, tensions were high on the court—it was still anyone’s game. Following a shot from Whyne that brought the score up to 54 for the Redbirds, he easily scored two free throws with 50 seconds left after a foul from the Stingers. The crowd erupted as the score was finally even. With 3.9 seconds remaining, a McGill foul gave the Stingers a one-point advantage. However, with less than 2.8 seconds left, the Stingers received a technical foul and Whyne was given two free throws.

The competition hall was dead silent as the 6’4 shooting guard successfully made his first throw without batting an eye. When Whyne sank the second shot, the crowd erupted into cheers as the Redbirds were victorious, 58-57. George Lengvari, an alumnus of both McGill and Concordia and long-time benefactor of both universities, handed the Redbirds their trophy for the second year in a row. In a post-game interview, Whyne explained how the Redbirds were able to make such a comeback.

“We felt confident going into the game,” Whyne said. “However […] we dug ourselves a hole early on. Nonetheless, once again we were able to show how resilient our group is, and with the guidance from our coaches we were able to overcome that deficit and win in the end.”

This impressive comeback from the Redbirds at a critical moment of the game is a sure indicator of the team’s spirit and their willingness to fight. It is also promising for the upcoming RSEQ championships, as the team remains at the top of the rankings this season.

Stat Corner: Haris Elezovic was the key to McGill’s offence, scoring a game-high 14 points during the game.

Quotable: “This will help us get ready for the playoff game next week too. We are looking to beat Concordia again at their gym tomorrow to make history.” — Fourth year forward Kevin Li

Moment of the Game: With 2.8 seconds remaining, Quarry Whyne made two free throws, securing the cup for the Redbirds and maintaining their undefeated streak of the season.

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