LENNOXVILLE, Que. — Team captain Vincent Dufort of Smiths Falls, Ont., collected a “double-double” and led McGill to a hard-fought 56-46 road victory over Bishop’s before a raucous crowd of 411 at the Mitchell gym, Saturday.
The result, combined with a Martlets 51-34 victory earlier in the evening, gave McGill a loveless Valentine’s Day sweep over the Gaiters,
The division-leading Redmen (9-4) have now won 19 of the last 22 confrontations with Bishop’s (7-7) including three in a row since suffering a heart-breaking 60-59 loss on a buzzer-beater in the season-opener. McGill is now assured of two things — making the playoffs and finishing ahead of BU, who are slated to host the RSEQ Final Four championship tournament, Mar. 6-7.
“It’s not so much about finishing ahead of them in the standings but more about being in that environment tonight,” said McGill head coach David DeAveiro, who has guided the Redmen to a stellar 54-23 record (.701) in league play since taking the helm of the program in 2010. “It was pretty loud and we couldn’t communicate well with each other in the huddle and on the floor. So it was good for our guys to experience that kind of hostile environment because we believe that it will be at least that loud when we head back there for the Final Four.”
Bishop’s led 12-11 after the opening quarter and the teams were knotted at 21-21 at halftime but the Redmen went on a 17-7 run in the third stanza to take a healthy 38-28 lead into the final quarter.
Dufort, a physical education senior and the league MVP last season, posted game-highs in both points (15) and rebounds (11), The 6-foot-4, 191-pound shooting guard played a game-high 37 minutes, shot 5-for-11 from the field and drained all five of his free-throw attempts. He added a pair of blocked shots, one steal and two assists.
“He’s the focus of our opponent’s defensive strategy,” added DeAveiro. “He continues to work hard on his shot and we’re also trying to get him to slow down the pace a bit so he can control the offence better and he did some of that today.”
Francois Bourque was held to just six points but matched Dufort in rebounds with 11. The 6-foot-5, 192-pound sophomore forward from Terrebonne, Que., leads the conference and is ranked ninth among CIS leaders in rebounding with 9.3 per game.
McGill shot 37.5 per cent from the field (21/56), made just four of 20 three-pointers and sunk 10 of 14 from the free-throw line, including an impressive 10-for-12 from the stripe in the second half.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time on our shooting in practice, especially working one-on-ones,” noted DeAveiro. “If we’re going to be successful in the playoffs, we have to be good in that area. The big thing that was really important today was that we were very good on the free-throw line down the stretch, especially with the noise level from the hostile crowd. Our boys showed a lot of poise when we needed it most.”
Bishop’s replied with 24.6 per cent (16/65), went 1-for 13 from the arc and 13 of 21 from the line.
For the Gaiters, David Belanger led the way with a dozen points, while former league MVP Kyle Desmarais was limited to 10 and Majid Naji had eight.
McGill had a 41-39 edge in rebounds and continues to lead the nation in that department with 45.5 boards per game. The Redmen also had a 17-15 advantage in steals and are ranked second in the CIS with 10.0 steals per game.
McGill, which also boasts the nation’s stingiest defence (58.2 ppga), coughed up 27 turnovers, while the Gaiters committed 24 miscues. Both teams blocked five shots.
The Redmen (9-4) have three games remaining before playoffs. They will host last-place UQAM (4-9) on Feb. 19, before playing at Concordia (6-7) on Feb. 21 and hosting Laval (7-6) on Feb. 27.
Bishop’s (7-7) will conclude their schedule by hosting Laval (Feb. 21) and UQAM (Feb. 28).
McGill Sports Info Office
|2014-15 RSEQ MEN’S STANDINGS|