(Halifax, NS) – In the first semi-final matchup of the Shoveller Memorial Invitational Basketball Tournament the StFX X-Men squared off against the Saint Mary's Huskies. In a physical game full of runs the X-Men were able to survive a late scare and earn the 88-82 win.
A few early defensive lapses from the Huskies led to wide open threes for the X-Men in the opening minutes with Justin Andrew (Hamilton, ON) and Julius Antoine (Vaughn, ON) who hit two each.
Combining outstanding shooting to start the game with intense defensive pressure, the X-Men jumped out to a quick 18-6 lead only five minutes into the game.
The shooting for StFX eventually cooled off late in the first and the Huskies were able to make a run of their own by attacking the lane and drawing fouls. Kemar Alleyne (Scarborough, ON) finished a tough shot through contact for a three-point play, followed by a deep shot from Kordeiro James (Woodbridge, ON) to bring the Huskies within two.
At the end of an exciting first quarter the X-Men held on to a small advantage with the score at 26-24.
Both teams were able to find a hot hand early in the second quarter with Osman Barrie (Ottawa, ON) working inside for the Huskies, while Nick Russell (Mississauga, ON) found his shooting touch from the outside.
Julius Antoine (Vaughn, ON) also got to the rim consistently for the X-Men as they were able to open up a 13-point lead at 48-35.
At the end of a physical first half, the X-Men were up 54-47 on the Huskies.
The pace of the game slowed in the second half, switching from a run-and-gun transition game to a primarily half-court set style of play on both sides.
The teams traded baskets for most of the third quarter till the X-Men were able to string together defensive stops with back-to-back threes from Jaydan Smith (Halifax, NS) and open up a lead.
The X-Men went into the fourth up twelve with the score at 74-62.
The X-Men went cold in the fourth quarter, only picking up three points in the first seven minutes, and the Huskies weren't shooting well either in the quarter, but they were able to go on a 10-3 run led by Osman Barrie on the inside.
With just over two minutes to go the X-Men lead was cut to four, still up 80-76.
Davonte Provo (East Preston, NS) brought the X-Men out of their slump with two big outside shots to keep the lead intact with one minute to go.
Time ran out on the Huskies comeback however as the X-Men survived for the 88-82 victory.
Osman Barrie earned the player of the game title with a game-high 27 points and eight rebounds, while Julius Antoine got the nod for the X-Men with 22 points and eight rebounds.
The Huskies will play Sunday at 1:00 in the game for 3rd place, vs UNBC.