Antigonish, NS – The StFX X-Men punched their ticket to the Subway AUS Championship with a 95-80 victory over the UPEI Panthers Saturday night on Coach K Court at the StFX Oland Centre. In dramatic fashion, the X-Men needed the final game of AUS regular season play to clinch the berth.
On the flip side, the loss eliminated the Panthers from playoff contention as they finished in a three-way tie with Memorial and Acadia – all with 16 points – but Memorial earned the tie breaker and nabbed the final playoff position.
Both teams came out with speed and intensity in the first quarter, knowing a berth in the AUS championship next weekend was on the line. They exchanged baskets throughout the opening quarter, keeping the score close.
Thomas Legallais (Cornwall, ON) hit a jumper at the buzzer to give StFX a 17-11 lead after 10 minutes. Jamesley Jerome (Montreal, QC) played a strong opening quarter for the Panthers, netting eight of their 11 points.
The Panthers began to turn the ball over more in the second quarter and the X-Men capitalized on their unforced errors. A Justin Andrew (Hamilton, ON) three-pointer four minutes in gave the X-Men a 33-19 lead.
StFX outscored UPEI 30-20 in the second frame to take a 47-31 lead into the locker room at halftime. Daniel Passley (Mississauga, ON) netted seven points for the X-Men in the quarter.
The third quarter was another tight scoring affair. The X-Men made some pretty plays in the paint while the Panthers relied on the long ball as Jack MacAulay (Charlottetown, PE) drained four from beyond the arc, coming off the UPEI bench and Milorad Sedlarevic (Jesenice, Slovenia) had a pair of treys.
Veteran X-Men guard Tristen Ross (Truro, NS) showed leadership on the court in directing the X-Men offense.
Despite being outscored 30-26 in the quarter, the X-Men held a 73-61 lead after three.
StFX went on a seven-point run to start the fourth quarter, capped off with a thunderous dunk from Azaro Roker (Nassau, Bahamas) two minutes in as they increased their lead to 80-61.
Ross and Passley continued their strong play for the X-Men and they never relinquished the lead. Up by 20 points with two and a half minutes to play, they closed out the 95-80 victory.
Passley took home Subway player of the game honours, scoring a team-high 23 points while adding 11 rebounds and four steals. Ross and Andrew each scored 18 points.
Legallais and Roker both had double-double nights as Legallais scored 13 points and hauled in 11 rebounds. Roker contributed 13 points and 10 boards.
For the Panthers, player of the game MacAulay led all scorers in the game with 27 points, also adding seven rebounds. Sedlarevic netted 15 and Jerome scored 14, while Samuel Campbell (Vaughan, ON) was the top UPEI rebounder with nine.
With a 6-14 record, the Panthers officially wrap up their 2018-19 season. The X-Men (7-13) finish in fifth place and advance to the Subway AUS Championship next weekend, March 1-3 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
StFX will take on fourth place Cape Breton in the first quarterfinal game on Friday night, March 1st at 6:30 pm. Dalhousie and Memorial will play in the second quarterfinal with Saint Mary's and UNB awaiting the winners for their semifinal opponents.
Courtesy Krista McKenna, StFX Sports Information