Basketball | Redmen prayers answered as Bibeau beats buzzer to sink NCAA's Saints
Vincent Dufort of Smiths Falls, Ont., scored a game-high 20 points and Simon Bibeau of St. Bruno, Que., drained a winning three-point shot with 2.1 seconds remaining as the McGill University men's basketball team rallied to defeat visiting Siena College 74-72 in preseason basketball at Love Competition Hall, Sunday.
The result improved McGill's record to 4-5 in their last nine confrontations against NCAA Div. 1 teams, dating back to 2011.
The Redmen jumped into an early 20-8 lead and were ahead 20-14 after the opening quarter. The Saints chipped away and reduced the deficit to 34-29 at the half and 52-50 after three stanzas. McGill never trailed until the final seven minutes of the contest but then the floodgates opened for a frenzied flurry down the stretch that resulted in 11 lead changes.
It appeared that rookie Lavon Long of Baltimore, Md., had won the game for the visitors when he grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free-throw by teammate Marquis Wright and sunk an off-balance, left-handed jumper to give the Saints a 72-71 lead with about three seconds left on the clock.
"Our coach was really disappointed (on that play) because we didn't box out properly on their last free-throw," said Bibeau, a senior point-guard who promptly responded with the winning basket. "As soon as they made that basket on the rebound, I wanted the ball immediately and the play was to run our main offence but a Siena player (Wright) tried to steal the ball so I made a move (which deked him out) to get open and knew I was going to make that shot. It was pretty exciting."
Bibeau, who appears to have recovered fully from a career-threatening knee injury suffered in his sophomore campaign, only had seven points in the game but contributed four rebounds, six assists and a steal in 31 minutes of court time.
Dufort, who also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, shot 6-for-14 from the floor, 2-for-4 from beyond the arc and made six of his seven free-throws.
"It was a must-win after a tough loss to Sacred Heart and the blowout loss to Syracuse," he said. "We need that one badly and our coach got us pumped up for this one. The guys were very excited about getting our first win. It was pretty hectic game. We're a very young squad and still learning, so we made a lot of mistakes down the stretch. It kind of came down whoever wanted it more at the end and we just wanted it more."
It was a very physical affair that featured 34 personal fouls, including a pair of rare ejections after a fourth-quarter shoving incident erupted between McGill rookie Francois Bourque and Siena junior Evan Hymes.
"We've got a really young group and kind of threw them into the fire during the first week of training camp without much preparation and I think they've responded well," said Redmen bench boss David DeAveiro. "What I was most proud of was that we defended ourselves today. We didn't back down from an opponent that was probably much stronger and physical than we were. It was very physical, hard-fought game.
"Both teams played extremely hard, right to the very end. The game really had a playoff atmosphere in terms of intensity between both teams. They made tough shots against us and we came right back and made tough shots of our own, so there was quite of an exchange going on and I guess whoever had the ball last was going to win."
Thomas Lacy, a sophomore from Jericho, Vt., added 15 points for the Redmen, while teammate Rodrigo Imperador, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound junior from Brazil, also reached double figures with 10 points. Rookie Dele Ogundokun, a 6-foot-2 freshman guard from Hamilton, Ont., made his third consecutive start and continued to impress. He tallied eight points to go along with seven rebounds.
Wright, a freshman from Waldorf, Md., led all Saints shooters with 17 points and Brett Bisping of Morton, Ill., had a dozen.
McGill went to the line 17 times and sunk 12 baskets, compared to Siena, which went 16-for-23 from the charity stripe.
The Redmen, who had a 39-34 edge in rebounding, shot 41.9 per cent from the field (26/62) and 40 per cent from three-point territory, while the Saints shot 41.7 and made 6-of-8 treys.
McGill, now 1-2 in preseason play against American squads, will have a six-week break before resuming their season when they host Guelph, Alberta and Queen's at the Redbird Classic tournament, Oct. 18-20.
Siena, a liberal arts college from Loudonville, N.Y., which defeated UQAM 88-78 on Saturday, will conclude their three-game sojourn across the border on Monday when they play Queen's in Kingston, Ont.