Antigonish, NS - The league leading and undefeated archrival Saint Mary's Huskies visited Coach K Court Saturday and needed the latter half of the fourth quarter to pull out a 78-71 win over the StFX X-Men.
It looked like the young X-Men would be able to knock off the leaders, but clutch play by veteran Nico Brauner (Hettenhain, GER) helped the Huskies remain perfect on the season.
The StFX X-Men took a slender first quarter 18-14 lead over the Huskies. The X-Men, drawing off the big partisan crowd put in a spirited performance on both ends of the floor. Nick McKee (Newmarket, ON) showed great form and Thomas Legallais was a force at point guard.
The high scoring Huskies could not find their rhythm and Coach Taussig went to his bench early. Will Fiander (Halifax, NS) contributed some key points and Andrew Ntivumbura (Orleans, ON) helped to keep the Huskies close.
The Huskies improved their play in the second quarter and half way through the frame took their first lead of the game. In a battle of big men, Brent Martindale (Kingston, ON) and Daniel Passley (Mississauga, ON) showed strength and finesse in equal measure as they jockeyed for position in the paint.
Brauner soon began to boss the game and, sensing the momentum was with the visitors, Coach K wisely called timeout. Not long after, rookie Jamie White (Saint John) came off the bench and immediately caused a charging foul and made great defensive plays to keep the X-Men in the lead as the second quarter closed with StFX up 36-32 at halftime.
The first half saw the Huskies struggle from distance and the third quarter continued in much the same way. Tight defence and perhaps a touch of nerves had both teams shoot uncharacteristically low percentages from the floor. Both teams combined for only 29 points as the defences turned the screw. The X-Men were leading by three points, 50-47 heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter saw a return to shooting form for both the Huskies and X-Men. Passley continued to lead the way for the X-Men offensively. Justin Andrew (Hamilton, ON) hit a couple of big threes with the game still in the balance. For the Huskies, it was Brauner who accounted for 16 of the Huskies' 31 points.
StFX took their last lead when Passley hit a huge three-pointer to the delight of the hometown crowd. Brauner quickly silenced the crowd and scored the next eight Huskies points. First, he nailed a jumper to retake the lead and then stole the ball and put the Huskies up 68-65. He subsequently dropped a dagger three and there would be no way back for the X-Men as Saint Mary's went on to take the 78-71 victory.
Brauner was a most deserving Subway Player of the Game recipient. He finished with 20 points on the night to lead the Huskies in scoring and also dished four assists. Nikita Kasongo (Chateauguay, QC) scored 12 points and had six rebounds while Johneil Johnson (Lake Echo, NS) added 11.
StFX's player of the game was Daniel Passley, who lead the X scoring with 23 points while pulling in seven rebounds. Andrew scored 16 and had eight rebounds and Thomas Legallais (Cornwall, ON) scored 12.
The X-Women will be back in action Wednesday evening, February 13th when they travel to Sydney to take on the Cape Breton Capers. The Huskies will host Memorial Saturday evening, February 16th.
Courtesy Bart Sears, StFX Sports Information