As the season drew to a close and with playoffs right around the corner, the University of New Brunswick men’s basketball team were looking to end on a high note.
The team lost their previous seven games, but were hoping to get some momentum and move up in the standings.
UNB’s first game came against the Cape Breton Capers, who had beat them just a few games ago 80-73. But that was in Cape Breton, and the game was now on the Varsity Red’s court.
The game started out strong for UNB, taking a 20-11 lead after the first quarter. The Reds kept it up with hard work and determination, extending their lead to 18 at halftime. Cape Breton made a small run in the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough as UNB went on to win 88-75.
“It was huge to get our momentum back,” said V-Red Daniel Quirion. “We were on a seven-game losing streak and it was kind of nice to get some of us back from injury.”
Quirion had a strong game, giving UNB 24 points in his second-last home game of the season. Javon Masters also played well and led all scorers with 28 points, while hitting 18 of 18 foul shots.
UNB head coach Brent Baker said he focused on defence in practice, and that will continue to be a focus.
“Our ball screen defence is borderline atrocious,” said Baker. “We really need to go back to square one and get after that.”
The win put UNB just ahead of the Capers, but they needed a win on Saturday against St. Francis Xavier University to put them where they wanted to be for playoffs. The game was the last home game for the Varsity Reds, as well as Quirion’s last game in the Currie Centre.
The first quarter kept things close, but UNB had the advantage of five points going into the second. In the next quarter UNB went on a run, giving them a comfortable cushion for the rest of the game. William McFee helped spark that run, scoring 10 of his 20 points in the quarter. Ryan Smith hit a layup with only a few seconds left in the half to put UNB up by 10.
From there, UNB kept the St. Francis X-men at arm’s length. The X-men never really challenged the lead and the Reds went on to win 91-78. The win not only meant they would put their season record to 10 wins and 10 losses, but they would also be playing the X-men in the first round of playoffs.
Quirion finished his last regular season strong, scoring 17 points while dishing out five assists.
“It sets the tone going into playoffs,” said Quirion.
Playoffs will be held at the Metro Centre in Halifax, and he said he thinks they can make some noise.
“I think we’re slept in a little bit,” said Quirion. “I think with the injuries and how the games went second semester a couple people forgot about us. Hopefully a couple teams are a little bit scared and hopefully we come in with the right momentum and the right mindset.”