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March 2, 2017 | Basketball (W)

Jazlin Barker taking control for the Stingers.

Stingers take down No. 3 Laval, advance to finals

“One more time,” shouted head coach Tenicha Gittens as she walked into the Concordia locker room after the Stingers’ 69-65 upset victory over the Laval Rouge et Or in the RSEQ semifinals at the Pierre Charbonneau Centre in Montreal on Thursday night.

By eliminating the first-place Rouge et Or, who hold the No. 3 spot in the U SPORTS rankings, Concordia earns a berth in the Quebec championship game on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Fifth-year forward Marilyse Roy Viau scored 18 points and hauled in nine rebounds to lead the Concordia attack.

“I kept calling her name on offence,” said Gittens, “and she came through. So did the rest of the team. Jazlin Barker had big game. The bench came in and gave us good minutes.”

Laval came into the game as the Quebec conference regular season champions with a 14-2 win-loss record. The Stingers finished in fourth place with a 7-9 record. The Rouge et Or won all four regular season meetings between the teams.

“We believed in ourselves,” said Gittens. “We followed our game plan. We were prepared. We were ready for this game.”

The Stingers led the entire game. The only scare came at 5:40 of the fourth quarter when the Rouge et Or tied the game at 55-55. But Concordia dug deep and once again pulled ahead on a jump shot from Aurelie d’Anjou Drouin.

“We could’ve easily folded when that happened,” Gittens said. “We have in the past, but we didn’t.”

Turnovers played a key role in the outcome of the game. Laval coughed up the ball 31 times compared to 12 for Concordia.

“They played better,” said Rouge et Or head coach Guillaume Giroux. “We turned the ball over 31 times and they made 26 points off our turnovers. You can’t win a game like that. I give them credit for the pressure they put on us.”

Concordia returns to the RSEQ final for the first time since 2013 when the Stingers were edged out 51-48 by the McGill Martlets.