MONTREAL — Fuelled by a game-high 15 points from Alex Kiss-Rusk of Beaconsfield, Que., and a strong second-half performance, the McGill University women’s basketball team cruised to a 68-51 victory over the Lakehead Thunderwolves to open the 20th annual Redbird Classic tournament at Love Competition Hall, Friday.
McGill had a 18-8 lead after the first quarter before the Thunderwolves stormed back cutting the deficit to 26-25 at halftime. They caught fire over the last two quarters, however, outscoring the Thunderwolves 42-26. They shot 50 per cent from the field and made 4 of 5 three pointers in the second half after going just 11-for-32 (34%) in the first.
“We were too bogged down on trying to run our sets and weren’t looking for easy baskets,” said McGill head coach Ryan Thorne about his team’s first half performance. “In the second half we focused on getting easy baskets in transition and moving our ‘bigs’ closer to the basket to get some isolations.”
The adjustments paid off sparking a 20-8 third quarter margin for the Martlets which was more than enough to earn them their third win in four pre-season outings.
Kiss-Rusk, a 6-foot-4 transfer from Virginia Tech, shot 6-for-14 from the floor and went a perfect 3-for-3 from the free-throw line. The daughter of McGill basketball greats Rick Rusk and Annette Kiss, she also grabbed six rebounds and added three assists, one block and one steal.
Mariam Sylla, the team’s other power forward and reigning conference player of the year, also had a strong game adding 12 points, five rebounds and two assists. Sylla, a third year player from Guinea, was very efficient from the floor, draining 5 of her 10 shots.
Teammate Marika Guerin, a starting freshman guard from Sorel, Que., played a game-high 35 minutes, leading the Martlets in both rebounding and assists with nine and six, respectively.
Leading the way for Lakehead was Katelyn Andrea and Essa Jacobsen, with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Martlets return to the court on Saturday at 5 p.m. against Regina.
MARTLET MURMURS: The referees used distinctive pink whistles at the tourney in honour of breast cancer month, an initiative that will continue until the end of October.
REDBIRD CLASSIC BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE & RESULTS
FRIDAY OCTOBER 17, 2014
2 p.m. (W) Regina 67, Toronto 62
4 p.m. (M) Ottawa 109, Brock 70
6 p.m. (W) McGill Martlets 68, Lakehead 51
8 p.m. (M) StFX 77, McGill Redmen 73 (OT)
SATURDAY OCTOBER 18, 2014
1 p.m. (W) Toronto vs Lakehead
3 p.m. (M) StFX vs Ottawa
5 p.m. (W) Regina vs McGill Martlets
7 p.m. (M) Brock vs McGill Redmen
SUNDAY OCTOBER 19, 2014
10 a.m. (W) Lakehead vs Regina
12 p.m. (M) StFX vs Brock
2 p.m. (W) Toronto vs McGill Martlets
4 p.m. (M) Ottawa vs McGill Redmen
Men’s games in bold