Antigonish, NS – The host StFX X-Men defeated the Cape Breton University Capers 81-70 Friday night at the 40th Annual StFX Invitational basketball tournament, presented by Pizza Delight, on Coach 'K' Court at Oland Centre.
With the victory, the Blue and White earned a spot in the championship game Saturday at 8:00 pm versus the Dalhousie Tigers, who defeated the Halifax-rival Saint Mary's Huskies 71-65 in the earlier semi-final match-up.
In the win over the Capers, Azaro Roker (Nassau, Bahamas) sparked the home crowd, early on, with a thunderous dunk. In a low-scoring opening five minutes of the first quarter, the visitors led 8-7.
After sophomore guard Jayden Smith (Halifax, N.S.) gave the X-Men an 11-10 advantage with a three-pointer, the Capers went on a 9-1 spurt – keyed by a basket from downtown from Dennis Joiner (Blaine, US) and an old-fashioned three-point play from Eugene Kanku (Ottawa, ON) – to take a 19-12 edge.
The Capers led 21-15 after the first quarter.
Freshmen Dawson Bungay (Alder Point, NS) and Atik Gilao (Brampton, ON) ignited an early second-quarter run to help the X-Men take a 31-25 lead. Bungay scored on an acrobatic offensive rebound, while Gilao meshed six consecutive points, on a three-pointer and a hoop-and-harm.
The X-Men finished the first half on a 13-3 burst and headed to the locker at halftime up 38-34.
Early in the third quarter, StFX took a double-digit edge – 63-53 – but Cape Breton responded, with Paul Watson (Mississauga, ON) and Osman Omar (Mississauga, ON) cashing in fast-break lay-ups.
After a Tevin Bartley (Toronto, ON) offensive rebound and put-back, the visitors led 51-50.
The X-Men quickly regained a five-point lead – 58-53 – after two free-throws from Gilao, a smooth pull-up jumper from Bungay and a Smith three-pointer, which came after an offensive rebound and kick-out from Roker.
Before the end of the third quarter, StFX doubled its advantage, making it 63-53 after a baseline jump shot from Gilao and another Smith basket from beyond the arc.
In the opening minutes of the fourth, the Capers pulled within seven points – 67-60 – but a couple three-pointers from Tristen Ross (Truro, NS) helped stretch the X-Men lead back to double figures – 72-60 – by midway through quarter.
Roker helped secure the win with a handful of blocked shots and a spinning lay-up in traffic.
Ross finished with a game-high 20 points, on 8-for-12 shooting, including three three-pointers, while Roker collected a double-double – 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Smith and Gilao, off the bench, along with Justin Andrew (Hamilton, ON), also hit double figures, with 10 points apiece.
Omar topped the Capers, with 18 points, while adding six rebounds. Joiner, with 15, Artur Arhangelski (Rakvere, ES) (11) and Watson (10) chipped in double-digit scoring.
The Capers will face the Huskies in the tournament consolation game Saturday at 6 p.m. in advance of the championship game at 8:00 pm.
Courtesy StFX Sports Information