Alex Kiss-Rusk of Beaconsfield, Que., recorded another one of her "reverse double-doubles" as third-ranked McGill rallied from an eight-point deficit to defeat No.5 Laval 56-52 in a key women's basketball battle of Top 10 teams, Thursday, at Love Competition Hall.
The division-leading Martlets improved to 9-2 with five games remaining before playoffs, while second-place Laval fell four points off the pace at 7-3, with a game in hand.
McGill jumped into a quick 7-0 start and had an 11-9 lead after one, but stumbled in the second quarter and found themselves trailing 26-18 before Kiss-Rusk put out the fire with a layup to make it 26-20 at halftime. The Martlets then posted a 21-13 third quarter and a 15-13 final frame.
"We just weren't disciplined in the second quarter," said McGill head coach Ryan Thorne, who owns a 249-189 record in 438 games overall at McGill. "All the stuff that we talked about in our game plan, we allowed them. If Laval gets going in transition it's hard to deal with them, just because they can score in so many different ways, and that's what we let happen in the second quarter. We tightened things up, played a little better in transition defence and didn't give up as many open threes (in the second half)."
With McGill ahead by four points in the final minute, Laval opted not to foul apparently because a) McGill is one of the top free-throw shooting teams in the country and more importantly, b) the Rouge et Or held a four-point differential in head-to-head meetings this season versus McGill (including a 58-50 win over the Martlets in the season opener). There are two confrontations left against each other, and the seasonal head-to-head point spread would come into play should the teams end up tied in the standings.
The Martlets had a 38-32 rebounding margin and a 2-0 edge in blocks while Laval held a 15-11 advantage in turnovers forced and a 9-5 difference in steals.
Kiss-Rusk, a 6-foot-4 centre, tallied 16 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. It was her league-leading eighth double-double in 11 league games. Four of them have featured more rebounds than points, sometimes referred to as a "reverse" double-double. She shot 8-for-15 from the field and was credited with a pair of assists, one block and a steal. Kiss-Rusk is ranked second in the country with 12.2 rebounds per game (behind Lakehead's Leashja Grant) and is tops under the defensive boards with an average of 9.5 per game.
Frederique Potvin of Ste. Julie, Que., followed with a solid 15-point performance, her 16th consecutive outing of 10 or more points, including four non-conference games. The 5-foot-10 guard shot 6-for-15 from the field, including 1-for-7 from three-point range, and was perfect on both of her free-throw attempts. She also pulled down seven rebounds, had a pair of assists and stole one ball.
"Fred Potvin played awesome," Thorne emphasized. "She's been a breath of fresh air. She may make some mistakes but she's always fighting and I think sometimes I neglect to say how important she's been to this team."
Geraldine Cabillo-Abante of St. Laurent, Que., drained 11 points and had two assists. She shot 2-for-5 from behind the arc and posted a perfect 5-for-5 effort from the charity stripe,
"GG was big," said Thorne of the 5-foot-5 junior guard. "She's been spending time working on (her three-point shooting), as most of the girls have. They found her in the right situations. Based on the players that we had on the court at those times, she's the player they're going to help often if the opponent is going to double-team Alex. GG knows that she needs to be ready to shoot the ball and she did, so we're very happy for her success."
Gladys Hakizimana of Montreal rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points. She shot 3-for-6 from the field, including 2-for-3 from downtown, drained both her free-throws and had four assists.
Raphaëlle Côté paced the Rouge et Or with 13 points, while Claudia Emond posted 11 and Lea Dominique added 10.
McGill shot 35.7 per cent from the field (20/56), 27.8 from beyond the arc (5/18) and was a perfect 11-for-11 from the line. The Martlets are currently ranked second in the league and fourth in the nation with a 74.3 per cent success rate from the charity stripe. The Rouge et Or shot 31.5 per cent from the field (23/73), 20.8 from downtown (5/24), and netted one of just two free-throw attempts in the entire game.
The teams tip-off again on Saturday (Feb. 3) at 6 p.m. in Quebec City for the second game of the home-and-home series. After that, they will have one final meeting, back in the provincial capital, on Feb. 22.
MARTLET MURMURS: After the game, just before the opening tipoff of the men's game, Redmen head coach David DeAveiro and Martlet bench boss Ryan Thorne, payed tribute to Rachele Beliveau, head coach of the Martlet volleyball program. They presented her with a bouquet of flowers and a framed photo recognizing Beliveau's milestone 600th career victory, accomplished last weekend.
|2017-18 RSEQ Women's Basketball Standings • Classement de la saison régulière du basketball (f)|