The UNB Varsity Reds men’s basketball team is back to their winning ways, as demonstrated by their performance in two crucial games this past weekend.
Despite coming off a disappointing loss to the UPEI Panthers the previous weekend, UNB rebounded to defeat the StFX X-Men 77-72 this past Friday and Dalhousie Tigers 85-76 on Saturday.
In Friday’s contest at StFX, All-Canadian Javon Masters led the V-Reds with 32 points as they rallied from a 15-point deficit in the second quarter. UNB guard Matt Daley excelled in the second half, scoring all 14 of his points following the halftime break.
The X-Men came out strong in their final home game of the regular season, and held the Varsity Reds to only two points in the first eight minutes of the game. The score at halftime was 35-32 in favour of the home team.
The X-Men looked to extend their lead going into the third, and led by 11 with five minutes remaining in the quarter. The growing deficit spurred UNB into action. Two free throws and a subsequent three-pointer completed by Will McFee proved to be the catalyst the team needed.
The remainder of the game was dominated by the visiting side, who outscored StFX 26-17 in the final quarter.
UNB continued their dominant play the following night in Halifax, where they took on the fourth-place Dalhousie Tigers in a four-point game. Masters and McFee led the V-Reds with 18 and 17 points each, respectively, as UNB took the game by a nine-point margin.
While UNB held the lead for the majority of the first half, the Tigers regained control of the game in the dying minutes of the second quarter and went into halftime with a 43-36 lead. The third quarter was a back and forth affair, and it was not until the final five minutes of the game that UNB took a decisive lead.
The win placed UNB once again into a tie for first place in the Atlantic University Sport standings with UPEI. The victory also secured UNB a first-round playoff bye for the first time since 2002.
On the women’s side, the Varsity Reds went 1-1 on the weekend, defeating StFX 74-53 on Friday before falling 63-48 to Dalhousie on Saturday. The weekend results clinched UNB a playoff spot.
On Friday, Grace Wade led UNB with 22 points to go along with three assists, two rebounds and two steals. Kolbi Roper replied for the X-Women with 21 points and nine rebounds.
UNB held an eight-point advantage at the end of the second quarter and never looked back. The team finished with a scoring percentage of 52.6 from the field.
The V-Reds struggled to build on their previous success on Saturday night, however, in their loss at Dalhousie. Courtney Thompson of the Tigers dominated the game with 26 points in 34 minutes of play, while Rachel Cleary was the top scorer for UNB with 10 points.
Despite the final score, the teams were well-matched for the majority of the first half, with UNB briefly taking the lead by a score of 30-29 on a jump shot from Wade. Undeterred, Tessa Stammberger replied for the Tigers — and they never looked back. Dalhousie led for the remainder of the game, and handily defeated the V-Reds by 15.
Both UNB squads close out the regular season this weekend at home against the MUN Sea-Hawks. Game times are 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday and noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday.