X-Men drop second straight game to UNB

Photo courtesy Andy Campbell, UNB Athletics
Photo courtesy Andy Campbell, UNB Athletics

(FREDERICTON, NB) - The UNB Varsity Reds built a 14-point first quarter lead, then hung on to beat the StFX X-Men 91-82 on Sunday.

The game was originally scheduled for Friday evening, but weather forced its postponement to Sunday.

Donnavan Hastings (Brampton, ON) led the Varsity Reds with 16 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds, and was named the Subway Player of the Game.

"The hot start was the key," said Hastings. "We let go of the energy after a bit, but got it done on the defensive end in the second half."

Hess Mayele (Montreal, QC) came off the bench to score 14 for UNB, while Javon Masters (Kitchener, ON) added 13 points and 8 assists.

Akil Charles (Glenn Dale, MD) scored a game-high 22 for the X-Men, while Kevin Bercy (Kanata, ON) recorded a double-double, scoring 19 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.

Down 21-7 after the first quarter, the X-Men rallied to trail 34-27 at the half.

With UNB shooting a decent 53-percent in the fourth quarter, the X-Men could never catch the Varsity Reds, who won for the second night in a row.

UNB's depth was one of its strengths, with the Varsity Reds bench outscoring the X bench 36-19.

"They got it to within three a couple of times, but the old saying… we bent but we didn't break and that was the big thing," said Varsity Reds head coach Brent Baker. "Our bench came in there in the third quarter and gave us a good push."

Early in the fourth quarter, Charles hit a three point shot to pull StFX within five points, but about 15 seconds later Hastings sunk three for UNB, restoring the Varsity Reds eight point cushion.

Masters and Mayele would add baskets before Hastings hit from long range again to give the VReds a 75-67 lead.

"Our guys battled back from a big deficit, but ran out of gas down the stretch," said X-Men head coach Steve Konchalski. "They (UNB) made some big shots. Hastings hit two threes, I think that was the difference in the game."

Even after giving up their big lead, Hastings says the Varsity Reds were never worried. "It's a game of runs," he said. "They had their run, but we weren't worried at all, we just dug in and listened to the coaching staff, did what they wanted."

Winners of three straight, the Varsity Reds are second in the Atlantic University Sport standings.

UNB has two regular season games left, including a four-point game Friday, against the 0-16 Cape Breton Capers.

"We know what's at stake, and the bye is in the mix for us," said Baker. "We've got another big game with Cape Breton, at home. The table was set by getting the win over in PEI, so these two wins are huge for us, and any time you can get two wins, back to back, in the AUS is huge."

Despite back to back losses, the X-Men have already clinched an AUS playoff berth. Because of that, Konchalski remains optimistic. "Right now, the league is wide open," he said. "Anybody could win the AUS right now, so we've just got to be positive and keep working at it."

The Varsity Reds will host the Capers Friday evening. In a scheduling twist, the men will play the first game of the night, tipping off at 6:00 pm, while the UNB and CBU women follow at 8:00 pm.

The X-Men visit Acadia on Friday, for an 8:00pm tip-off.

Recap by Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics