by Michel Bélanger
March 16, 2014, WINDSOR, Ont. (ISN) – Mariam Sylla recorded a game-high 21 points, helping the fourth-seeded McGill Martlets to a 70-56 victory over the No. 7 Alberta Pandas in the fifth-place game at the ArcelorMittal Dofasco CIS women’s basketball championship on Sunday afternoon at the St. Denis Centre.
CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITE: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wbkb/index
The RSEQ MVP was 8-of-13 from the field and added a team-best seven rebounds in the victory for McGill, who take fifth-place at the national championship tournament for the second-straight season. A total of four players reached double-digits on the scoreboard for McGill, who pulled away in the fourth quarter by holding the Canada West bronze-medallists to single digits in the final 10 minutes of the contest.
“Every team wants to finish the season with a win, so we’re very pleased with the result,” said McGill head coach Ryan Thorne. “Obviously, we would have loved to have this kind of performance in the first round on Friday. But I’m very proud of the way the girls kept their heads up high after a tough loss and the way they responded the last two days. They showed a lot of character and showed what a proud basketball program we have at McGill.”
Alberta finishes sixth at their first CIS national championship appearance in four seasons. The Pandas won a bronze medal in their last Final 8 outing in 2009. Saskia VanGinhoven led Alberta with 15 points while Jessilyn Fairbanks tallied 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Carlyon began the game with a lay-up while taking a foul from Sylla. The Dapp, Alta. native converted her free-throw, but a three from Hélène Bibeau evened the game after two minutes of play.
Fairbanks and Sally Hiller each picked up five points in the opening 10 minutes, but the Martlets responded by going 9-of-15 in the first quarter, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc to take a three-point lead into the second.
The RSEQ champions strung together an 11-3 run through the first five minutes of the next quarter to spread their advantage into double-digits. However, the Pandas answered with a 7-0 run late in the first half with Fairbanks acting as the catalyst. The Edmonton product followed a jumper by sinking both her free-throws, and finished with a team-best nine points at the half.
McGill shot an impressive 50.0% in the opening two quarters and carried a 40-33 lead into the break. Sylla led all players with 10 points in the first half.
The squads exchanged three-pointers to open the third quarter. Fairbanks jumped on a McGill pass to pick up a steal and laid a pass to Maddie Rogers in transition. VanGinhoven then found Carylon in the low post for a lay-up.
The Edmonton native picked up a fast-break lay-up off a McGill turnover, but Sylla answered to help the Martlets maintain their first-half lead. The all-Canadian from Conakry, Guinea grabbed another basket, but VanGinhoven converted a three-point play as the Pandas went on a mini run to close the third to come within four heading into the final quarter.
Hillier sank a three-point jumper to begin the fourth, but two more free throws from Sylla pushed the Martlet lead back up to five. McGill looked to put the game away midway through the fourth with a 7-0 run that included a long-range basket from Francoise Charest.
McGill finished the game with a solid 43.9% shooting efficiency compared to 38.5% from the Pandas. Alberta garnered 35 total rebounds while McGill picked up 30.
McG 24-16-12-18: 70
ALB 21-12-15-8: 56
Points: Mariam Sylla (21), Françoise Charest (10), Hélène Bibeau (10), Marie-Pier Bastrach (10)
Rebounds: Mariam Sylla (7), Hélène Bibeau (6)
Assists: Dianna Ros (7)
Player of the game: Mariam Sylla
Points: Saskia VanGinhoven (15), Jessilyn Fairbanks (12)
Rebounds: Jessilyn Fairbanks (10), Andria Carlyon (7)
Assists: Jessilyn Fairbanks (6)
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times EASTERN TIME)
Friday, March 14
- 13:00 Quarter-final 1: Saint Mary’s 71, Alberta 51
- 15:00 Quarter-final 2: Saskatchewan 61, Queen’s 52
- 18:00 Quarter-final 3: Windsor 81, Wilfrid Laurier 53
- 20:00 Quarter-final 4: Fraser Valley 74, McGill 60
Saturday, March 15
- 10:00 Consolation 1: Alberta 67, Queen’s 55
- 12:00 Consolation 2: McGill 58, Wilfrid Laurier 51
- 15:00 Semifinal 1: Saint Mary’s 67, Saskatchewan 54
- 17:00 Semifinal 2: Windsor 65, Fraser Valley 45
Sunday, March 16
- 15:00 5th Place: McGill 70, Alberta 56
- 17:00 Bronze: No. 3 Saskatchewan vs. No. 5 Fraser Valley (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
- 20:00 Final: No. 2 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 1 Windsor (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv *)
* The webcast of all 3 televised games (semifinals & final) will be on pay-per-view basis.