Varsity Reds, Axemen lose on first day of men’s basketball Final 8

Photo by Trevor MacMillan
Photo by Trevor MacMillan

By: Monty Mosher


Four days might as well have been 51 years for the UNB Varsity Reds.

Full of energy in a victory over St. Francis Xavier on Sunday in the AUS men's basketball final, the Varsity Reds fell flat in their U Sports Final 8 quarter-final loss to the McGill Redmen on Thursday on the same floor.

McGill, the champions of the Quebec conference seeded third in the tournament, used a 29-14 second quarter to pull away for the Varsity Reds in an 88-57 victory.

It was all about full-court pressure for the Redmen, who scored 28 points off 22 UNB turnovers. The Varsity Reds scored just five on 13 McGill miscues.

McGill also made better use of the three-point shot, nailing 11-of-24 to just four-of-23 for UNB.

The Varsity Reds won their conference for the first time since 1967 on depth and grit, fighting back from 12 points behind to oust the X-Men.

But they got lost in the bright lights of national tournament competition and never really threatened after keeping it even through the first 10 minutes.

McGill, with four tournament appearances in the past five years, advances to Saturday's championship semifinals for the second year in a row. UNB, seeded sixth this week, will be in the consolation semifinals on Saturday at 11 a.m.

UNB head coach Brent Baker said the team didn't do a good enough job putting last weekend in the past in time for Thursday's tip-off.

"One of things we had to do mentally was flush that out," he said in post-game remarks. "We weren't sharp to start."

The loss ends the championship aspirations of UNB guard Javon Masters, who scored a record 2,407 regular-season points over his five years. He was the tournament MVP last weekend, scoring 28 points in the title game.

However, there was no magic left on Thursday. He had 19 points but couldn't propel his team toward any serious comeback.

"They are a really, good defensive-minded team," Masters said. "We started off flat and then got into a little flow, but their pressure really got into us. It was a point of emphasis in our game plan to neutralize their pressure and we didn't do a good job of that."

Tyrell Leotaud was the only other UNB player in double figure with 10 points.

Dele Ogundokun had 17, Sebastian Beckett 13, Jenning Leung and Alex Paquin 12 each and Noah Daoust 11 for McGill, one of the more experienced teams in the draw.

"Having been here a couple times, and then last year getting over that hump and winning our first game, definitely inspired our group," said coach David DeAveiro. "A lot of these guys came back with the sole purpose of getting back here to prove that they belong and compete for a national championship.

"I thought with their team today, you saw their young guys here for the first time struggle a little bit. That was like when we came here for the first time with Dele's group and we took it on the chin pretty good."

In the other afternoon game, the second-seeded Calgary Dinos, the Canada West champs, edged the wild-card Brock Badgers 78-76 with Mambi Diawara's bucket with 45 seconds left the deciding shot.

Diawara led the Dinos with 19 points. David Kapinga added 18.

Johneil Simpson had a game-high 24 for Brock, an OUA semifinalist. He missed a three-pointer at the buzzer for the win. Dani Elgadi tossed in 20 for the Badgers.

Calgary faces McGill on Saturday at 2 p.m. with the winner in Sunday's 6 p.m. final.

In the night bracket, the top-seeded and seven-time defending-champion Carleton Ravens surged in the fourth quarter to defeat the host Acadia Axemen, seeded eighth, 81-64.

The Ravens led by 10 in the first quarter before Acadia rallied to lead by three in the second quarter. Carleton fought back to post a 39-36 edge at the half.

Even 54-54 in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Carleton got treys from Marcus Anderson and Cam Smythe and a three-point play from Eddie Ekiyor in a 17-2 spurt.

Ekiyor finished with 25 points and Cam Smythe 18 for the winners.

Senior forward Erik Nissen had 18 points and 17 rebounds and Trevon Grant 16 points for the Axemen. Ben Miller collected 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Ravens will play OUA rival Ryerson on Saturday at 6 p.m. after the No. 5 Rams whipped the No. 4 Alberta Golden Bears 88-62.

Manny Diressa had 25 and Jean-Victor Mukama 21 for the winners, who made 20 three-pointers on 44 attempts. The Rams are OUA finalists.

Mamadou Gueye had 12 for Alberta, down 46-34 at the half. The Golden Bears were finalists in Canada West.

Alberta and Acadia play a consolation semifinal on Saturday at 8 p.m.

There is a consolation final on Sunday at noon and a bronze-medal game at 2 p.m. in advance of the championship.

View: Mobile | Desktop