MONTREAL — All-Canadian forward Mariam Sylla was a one-woman show, collecting one of her patented “double-doubles” and yet another milestone as No.2-ranked McGill cruised to a 62-51 conquest over Laval in women’s basketball at Love Competition Hall, Saturday.
It was also McGill’s 16th straight win over the Rouge et Or as the Martlets improved their perfect record to 8-0 in the RSEQ conference. They have now won 17 of their last 18 contests against RSEQ opponents, dating back to last year. The result, combined with top-ranked Windsor’s stunning 60-53 home-court loss to No.8 Laurier on Saturday, is expected to move the McGill hoops program into the No.1 spot in the nation for the first time in school history when the CIS Top 10 poll is released on Tuesday.
Sylla, a 6-foot-1 pharmacology junior from Guinea, posted a game-high 18 points and a season-high 18 rebounds. She shot 4-for-12 from the floor and drained 10 of 11 attempts from the free-throw line, to go along with three steals, a pair of blocked shots and two assists. Her final rebound of the match was the 400th in regular season play, to go along with 544 career points in 40 career league games. Sylla registered her league-leading fourth double-double of the season and 15th in RSEQ conference play.
“Mariam played with a lot more patience tonight,” said Ryan Thorne, in his 12th season as head coach at McGill. “She kicked the ball out early and found people on the perimeter. This enabled her later on to have less double-teams (coverage on her) and more opportunities to go one-on-one.”
Bastrash, a third-year medical student from Trois-Rivieres, Que., had a dozen points on an efficient 4-of-9 shooting performance which included one from long range. She also went 3-for-3 from the charity stripe and added six rebounds and three assists. Ros, a Montreal native, had a rough night shooting with a 4-for-16 effort from the floor but still managed to sink 11 points, including three from the foul-line. The 5-foot-7 senior point-guard also distributed the ball nicely, collecting five assists.
Laval led for the first five minutes early on but lost it for good after a Ros bucket at the 5:24 mark that gave McGill their first lead at 9-7. The Martlets held a slight 15-14 edge on the scoreboard after the opening quarter and extended that to 27-20 at intermission. Nothing changed in the second half as McGill moved into auto-pilot mode and outscored Laval 19-15 in the third stanza to take 46-35 advantage going into the final frame.
Genevieve Derome was the only Rouge et Or player to reach double figures in scoring with 13. Meanwhile Gabrielle Girard, Sarah-Jane Marois and Claudia Edmond pitched in with nine, eight and eight respectively.
The Martlets had a 47-33 advantage in rebounds, including an impressive 18-7 margin under the offensive boards. They also had a 9-7 edge in steals and a 7-2 difference in blocked shots.
It was a tough night shooting for both teams as McGill succeeded on only 29.2 per cent from the field (21/72) and went 4-for-21 from three-point range, while Laval shot 30.2 per cent from the floor (19/63) and went 4-for-16 from beyond the arc. Both teams had more success from the foul-line as McGill made 16-of-18 attempts while Laval connected on 9-of-14.
The Martlets (8-0) will now get four days to prepare for a home-and-home series against the second-place UQAM Citadins (4-2), who will visit Love Competition Hall on Thursday (Jan. 29). Tip-off is at 6.p.m and the game will be streamed live on ssncanada.ca.
Laval, which dropped to 3-5, will host last-place Bishop’s (0-6) on Jan. 23.