LENNOXVILLE, Que. — Sophomore Michael Peterkin matched a career-high with 16 points as top-seeded McGill conquered Concordia 74-60 to eliminate the third-seeded Stingers in a sudden-death men’s basketball semifinal at the RSEQ Final Four championship tournament, Friday, held in the Mitchell gymnasium on the campus of Bishop’s University.
The Redmen advanced to Saturday’s league championship game against third-seeded Bishop’s, which defeated No.2 Laval 76-65 in Friday’s other semifinal. The RSEQ title match will be streamed live from the Mitchell gym at 8 p.m., following the women’s final between McGill and UQAM at 5 p.m. The Martlets are looking for their fourth consecutive Quebec banner, while the Redmen are hoping to three-peat.
It marked the final game for long-time Stingers head coach John Dore, who is retiring after spending the past 26 seasons benind the bench.
Peterkin, a 6-foot-4, 196-pound small forward from Toronto, had previously scored 16 in two preseason victories over Guelph and Brock last October. An economics major who is five days shy of his 20th birthday, Peterkin flashed a hot hand with a super 7-for-10 shooting performance, including a 1-for-3 effort from three-point range. Named as McGill’s player of the game, he also drained one of three attempts from the free-throw line, to go along with three rebounds, one blocked shot, a steal and one assist.
A balanced McGill attack included three other players reaching double figures. Dele Ogundokun, the RSEQ defensive player of the year, scored 14 and both point-guards — Jenning Leung and Ave Bross — added 10. The Redmen bench also came up big outscoring the Concordia subs 20-10.
“Part of our success all year has been our balance,” said McGill head coach David DeAveiro, who improved to 96-73 overall behind the Redmen bench, including a 90-52 mark against CIS opponents. “We don’t have one guy that can put up 20. I thought Ave gave us a big boost off the bench and was a key to us coming out on top.”
Mukiya Post was named player of the game for the losing side with a game-high 23 points. He shot 6-for-14 from the field, including one trey ball and swished an impressive 10-of-10 from the free-throw line.
The regular season champion Redmen had a strong start, making some big shots and locking down defensively, which allowed them to jump to a stunning 25-7 lead. Concordia tightened up in the second quarter but still found themselves down by a big margin, 35-19 at halftime.
“We got off to a great start and that was the difference in the game,” added DeAveiro. “We made some shots early and that gave us a ton of confidence.”
The Stingers made two runs in the second half but each time McGill weathered the storm and had an answer. Post sunk a layup at the 2:35 mark of the third quarter to cut the Redmen lead to 47-36 but by the first minute of the final frame that lead was back at a comfortable 58-38 margin.
Concordia pushed again with less than two minutes remaining, cutting the deficit to 10. McGill was unfazed however, using a couple fast break-dunks by Peterkin to put the game to bed.
“We talked about this being a boxing fight,” said the fifth-year McGill bench boss, whose troops shot an impressive 49.2 per cent from the floor (31/63), making six of 19 from three-point range and going 6-for-11 from the line. “We knew we were going to get two hard punches and they gave us two hard punches. The first one we survived. (Concordia reduced the deficit) to 11 but then we got it back to 20 and we knew they had one (push) left in them. When they came at us late, we made one adjustment offensively and got some layups and then just held on.”
The Stingers shooting was sub-par, connecting on 32.8 per cent from the field (19/58), 14.3 from beyond the arc (3/21) and a solid 79.2 from the line (19/24).
For the third straight year, McGill and Bishop’s will tip-off in the RSEQ final, with the winner advancing to the CIS Final Eight in Toronto. In 2013, the Gaiters watched in horror as McGill rallied from a 15-point deficit to win 77-74 at Love Competition Hall. Last year, the Redmen coasted to a lopsided 73-47 victory to capture their second straight title at the inaugural Final Four tourney, which was held in Quebec City. The Gaiters, who are no doubt sour from coming out on the wrong end in the two previous RSEQ gold medal games, will have the added advantage of having a raucous home crowd behind them in their venue.
“Our kids are focused and they really want this but it is going to be a madhouse here (on Saturday),” predicted DeAveiro. “We have to be prepared for that.”
Ryne Bondy & Earl Zukerman
McGill Sports Info Office