The UNB Saint John Seawolves took on the Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics in ACAA men’s basketball playoff action this afternoon.
The sixth seed Seawolves faced the third seed Mystics in a game that would prove to be a battle for the Saint John team.
The Mystics got out to an early lead in the first quarter, as UNB trailed behind, struggling to keep pace with the home team.
The Seawolves #15, Liam Sipkema, was the first to score for the Seawolves, as they trailed 15-2.
The Mystics maintained a lead against the Seawolves, 22-10, with the Seawolves #13, Steve Ryan, putting up a three point attempt in the final seconds of the first quarter, but unable to get the ball to drop.
“We didn’t execute the things we wanted to execute…” – Peter Vincent, UNB Saint John men’s basketball coach
The Seawolves, looking for a momentum shift on the court, gained possession of a turnover, and #21, Matt Brown drove to the hole putting up an impressive dunk, bringing the wolves within 10 points, 24-14.
Unfortunately, the Mystics quickly reset the pace of the game, as they picked up 8 points in two minutes of play, including lights out shots from MSVU’s #13, Emad Khalek.
“We didn’t execute the things we wanted to execute,” said Peter Vincent, men’s basketball head coach. “We wound up scrambling in late shot clock situations trying to score.”
With a little over 2 minutes of play left in the half, the Seawolves trailed by 20 points, 44-22.
The Mystics lead the game, 52-29 going in to the half. Seawolves #11, Paul Gerges, lead the team in scoring, putting up 5 points, while the Mystics #13, Emad Khalek had 16 points for his team.
Starting the second half, the Seawolves proved they weren’t ready to just hand over the game, grabbing a couple of solid turnovers and putting up big points, while also drawing some fouls to bring the score 54-35.
The Mystics fought hard to battle back against the Seawolves, and with continued pressure was able to maintain a 20-point lead with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.
The Seawolves pushed for the remainder of the third, trying to narrow the gap in points, ending the quarter 69-45.
In the end, UNB Saint john couldn’t out pace MSVU with the game ending in a score of 104 – 59.
“Being ready to play was probably the biggest thing for us today,” Vincent said. “We had a hard week of practice [and] we thought we were ready but, physically and mentally, I’m not sure we were as sharp as MSVU was.”
Player of the game for the Seawolves was awarded to #6, Nick Huggard. Player of the game for the Mystics was #13, Emad Khalek.
The loss today ended the playoff dreams of the Seawolves, but Vincent doesn’t think that all was lost for the team.
“Being able to match the intensity of a tough team in every game situation is one thing, being able to do it in playoffs is another…we’ve got to take all the learning’s from this game and move them forward to next year,” said Vincent.
“I look at this for a lot of the younger guys, this is a big learning experience.”
Injuries; studies may keep some players from returning
The Seawolves will lose players next year, including second year guard, Drew Robart.
“We’re losing one player, Drew Robart, [and] we have two guys that are hurt,” Vincent said.
With some of the players, “the season ending injuries that they received this year are going to result in surgeries that may not bring them back next year.”
However, Vincent is optimistic that his recruits will help fill the void.
“We’ve got some very good recruits that are coming,” said Vincent. “Hopefully, if we have to fill three spots, we fill those three spots with quality individuals.”
“If we get that same quality and chemistry, we’re going to be okay.”