For fans of up tempo, run-and-gun basketball, the first semi-final of the Shoveller in Halifax was as advertised, with numerous transition opportunities, one-pass-and-done looks, offensive rebounds and all the other elements of two teams looking to out-score (as oppose to out-defend) each other, as Saint Mary’s outlasted UPEI 87-81.
And the game remained close and intriguing, right up until the final minute when, with Saint Mary’s up 5 and Panthers star Tyler Scott attacking the rim, SMU’s 6’8″ Osman Barrie forward came up with a punctuating block that immediately led to a run-out and two-handed slam for 6’5″ Theon Reefer, putting the game away for good.
While the game did not come close to what some thought could turn into a game in the 100’s, had it not been for some terrible free throw and three-point shooting, the century mark could easily have been reached given the torrid tempo. Panthers ended up just 12 for 27 from the free throw line with the usually accurate Scott and oft-fouled 6’5″ Bradley States combining to go just 7 for 17 from the stripe. Combined the teams went 9 for 33 from downtown and the game featured 50 (fifty !) offensive rebounds including 34 for UPEI.
Reefer came alive with 18 of his game-high 26 points after the intermission including a couple of dunks and one missed breakaway slam that allowed Panthers to stay in the game. The import wing from Maryland did provide the game’s best individual stretch offensively in the third quarter when Panthers actually took their last lead and he responded with 7 consecutive points to give SMU a lead they would not relinquish.
The key last-minute block for Barrie was one of three on the evening for the slender, athletic forward from Ottawa, who had 17 of his 19 points in the second quarter, adding a game-high 18 rebounds. Point guard Marquis Clayton added 21 points and 6 assists, shooting just 5 for 14 but making 11 of 12 free throws as the Huskies finished 19 of 30 from the stripe. SMU appeared to lose second year wing Kemar Alleyne in the second half to a suspected injury.
Scott went 9 for 23 from field – part of the 87 shots the Panthers put up – and finished with 25 to lead UPEI. Athletic forward States was also instrumental as a rim protector, blocking 5 shots, getting out in transition finishing with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
The Huskies advance to tomorrow afternoon’s championship game against the winner of Concordia and Dalhousie.