Antigonish, NS – The StFX X-Men evened out the weekend series, nipping the UNB Reds by a 99-92 score Saturday night, following up on a fantastic game played between the same two squads on Friday night evening.
In contrast to Friday's game, it was the Reds who got off to the hot start and took a 19-7 first quarter lead. Daniel Pitcher (Sydney, AUS), with six first quarter points, ran the show for the Reds and Jesse Kendall (Guelph, ON) showed his experience with a steady performance as went on to play a great game. Tristan Ross (Truro, NS) had the hot hand early for the X-Men as he nailed two three-pointers, in addition to playing well defensively.
StFX freshman Atik Gilao (Brampton, ON) looked as assured on both ends of the floor as he did at the free throw line. He warmed up with five first quarter points before dropping 12 in the second. The Reds took a close 44-43 lead into the halftime break.
Those in attendance who did not know what month it was could easily have mistaken it for play-off basketball, such was the intensity and high standard of play. For the X-Men, it was no surprise to see sharp-shooter Justin Andrew (Hamilton, ON) hit two nice shots from beyond the arc, while Azaro Roker (Nassau, BAH) contributed another momentum-shifting slam dunk.
For the Reds, Kendell continued his solid play and helped keep UNB in the game as they were down by a single point, 61-60 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter was a see-saw battle which saw numerous lead changes and the crowd become increasingly vocal in favour of the home side. Leads for both teams were all short-lived and three-pointers by Ross and Chris Spurrell (Quispamsis, NB) gave only false hope to their respective fans. While the game was tied in the dying seconds, Pitcher coolly dribbled up court, drove the lane, and put up a lay-up attempt that went seemingly three-quarters of the way into the basket before cruelly coming out again, as the scored remained 86-86 at the end of regulation.
Overtime saw StFX gain the early advantage with some great play by both Andrew and Jaydan Smith (Halifax, NS). The turning point of the overtime period was a timely steal and stylish layup by Smith. Fittingly, Andrew, the Subway player of the game, put the seal on the X-Men victory with four straight foul shots to finish out the game.
The UNB player of the game was Daniel Pitcher who finished with 27 points and nine rebounds on the evening. Kendall netted 23 and Spurell added 10 with nine assists.
StFX had five scorers in the double digits including Justin Andrew led the X-Men with 22 points. Ross scored 17, as did Gilao off the bench. Daniel Passley (Mississauga, ON) led StFX with 11 rebounds and also scored eight points. Smith contributed 14 points off the X bench and Roker scored 11 with eight rebounds.
Next on the AUS schedule sees the Reds host their home-opening games next weekend, November 9-10 as Dalhousie is in town. Both games start at 8:00 pm. The X-Men will travel to Sydney on November 10th to face the Capers, also at 8:00 pm.
Courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Sports Information