U SPORTS Communications
HALIFAX – The McGill Redmen stood tall in a defensive battle against the Manitoba Bisons on Thursday afternoon, winning 63-53 to advance to the semifinal of the ArcelorMittal Dofasco U SPORTS Final 8 Men's Basketball Championship.
McGill was able to hold Manitoba to just 2-of-8 from three point-range while also winning the battle on the glass 47-34.
"The key for all our wins is our defence," McGill head coach Dave DeAveiro said in the postgame conference.
"We held a team today that scores about 80, one of the top ranked teams offensively in the country and we shut them down a little bit and made everything difficult for them, turned it into a grind it out game and we're used to playing those games in our conference."
Forward François Bourque finished with a double-double (13 points, 15 rebounds) for McGill, while guard Jenning Leung had 13 point of his own. Forward Keith Omoerah chipped in 13 points and nine boards for the Bisons.
The Redmen led 18-10 after the opening 10 minutes due in large part to their ability to get to the line. They had 12 attempts in the first quarter compared to just two for Manitoba.
The two sides traded momentum in the second quarter, with each team going on a mini run.
Manitoba was able to cut McGill's lead to as much as three, before the Redmen answered back to take a 35-30 lead into halftime. Leung had a hot second quarter down the stretch, recording all six of his perimeter points, but was matched by Manitoba post Brett Jewell, who had success inside the paint with five points.
The tightly-fought contest continued in the third quarter, where the two teams combined to score just 19 points.
The Redmen did an effective job on the glass, recording seven defensive rebounds but were unable to finish on the offensive end, shooting just 25 per cent from the field.
The Bisons, led by guard Justus Alleyn were able to limit McGill to 1-of-10 shooting from the perimeter, but also had trouble cashing in on the offensive, shooting just 33.3 per cent in the quarter.
The Redmen won the battle on the boards yet again in the fourth quarter, grabbing 11 while holding Manitoba to just five. They also got two critical treys down the stretch and held on for the 10-point victory.
Despite the loss, Manitoba head coach Kirby Schepp was happy with his team's progression this season, after returning to the Final 8 for the first time in over 30 years.
"I'm proud of our effort,"Schepp said postgame. I didn't think our execution was necessarily great today, but the larger picture is we've made huge strides as a program and these guys will always go down really in the history of our program as lifting it to a new place, which is great."
With the win McGill advances to play Carleton in the first of two semifinals on Saturday, while Manitoba will now play in the consolation semifinal against Calgary tomorrow.