In a game played at the newly-renovated Scotiabank Place – what most oldtimers know as the Halifax Metro Center – Saint Mary’s came from down 7 early to win comfortably over long-time rival St. FX 82-69, earning the Huskies a valuable four points in their quest for the AUS tournament. SMU is now 5-7 on the season with 12 points, moving into a tie with Memorial for the sixth and final spot in the AUS tournament set-up.
The downtown Halifax venue, site of numerous story-book CIS games over the decades, has been refurbished with modern seats and looks tremendous – many across the country are pleased that Halifax once again will be hosting the Final 8 next season. Saint Mary’s, which got 22 from do-everything 6’3″ wing Brian Rouse and a double double from 6’8″ Osman Barrie (13 points, 15 rebounds) once again played without spark-plug point guard Marquis Clayton.
X, which drops to 1-12 and very likely will miss the AUS tournament for the second consecutive season, did break out to an early lead on the heels of a pair of 3’s by 6’2″ lefty Julius Antoine and looked to establish their inside game with 6’8″ Kevin Bercy and 6’7″ Cameron Walker, jumping out to a 28-21 lead early in the second quarter. X built their lead on some forced turnovers as their defense got them some scores and the resulting momentum seemed to energize the X-Men, desperate for a win. Unfortunately both Antoine and Bercy picked up their second fouls, forcing X coach Steve Konchalski to go to his bench late in the quarter and the results offensively were mixed. X-Men scored just 4 points in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the half and allowed Saint Mary’s multiple easy transition scores.
When X was able to keep the game in the quarter court, their switching “d” – from 3/2 zone to man and back – kept Huskies off balance. But an inability to knock down open looks, some careless turnovers and poor transition “d” allowed SMU back in the game, led primarily by Rouse, one of the better all-round talents in the AUS.
X did mount one run in the fourth quarter, getting the game back to within 5 however Rouse and 6’5″ Theon Reefer took over, with Reefer catching one on the break and hammering home a two-handed dunk which sealed the deal. Tempers flared toward the end of the game with some needless pushing and shoving – Reefer and Antoine both picked up their 5th fouls in the exchange as X especially released some emotion in what has been a very trying season in Antigonish. Walker led the way for the X-Men with 23 points.
Other AUS games this weekend:
MUN at UNB (tonight and tomorrow afternoon)
Acadia at Dalhousie
UPEI at Cape Breton (tonight and tomorrow afternoon)