(ANTIGONISH, N.S.) On the strength of a 15-4 run to end the game, the visiting UNB Varsity Reds defeated the StFX X-Men 77-72 in AUS basketball action Friday night.
More than 700 fans came to Oland Centre in Antigonish to celebrate Senior Night as the X-Men played in their final regular season home game.
Led by All-Canadian Javon Masters (Kitchener, ON), who scored 32 points, the Varsity Reds rallied from a 15-point second-quarter deficit to earn the victory.
The Subway Player of the Game added five rebounds, five assists and one blocked shot.
Along with Masters, the UNB comeback was keyed by guard Matthew Daley (Belledune, NB), who scored all his 14 points in the second half. He completed the double-double with 10 rebounds, while adding six assists and four steals.
The X-Men, who led 35-32 at halftime, jumped to a 16-6 lead after the first quarter, while holding the Varsity Reds to only two points in the first eight minutes of the game.
Fifth-year seniors Shane Coupland (Brisbane, AUS), with a three-pointer, along with Alex Arthur (Toronto, ON) and Jameel Williamson (Pickering, ON), with two points apiece, combined to score seven of the first 10 points for the X-Men.
"The first quarter was great but we stopped following our plan in the second quarter," Coupland said at halftime.
Coupland notched a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds, while adding three assists and one steal.
Arthur finished with a game-high seven assists, while adding four points and one steal.
Williamson chipped in five points, five rebounds, five assists, two blocked shots and one steal.
Sophomore forward Cameron Walker (Dallas, TX) contributed 19 points and seven rebounds, while second-year point guard Davonte Provo (East Preston, NS) scored 14, on six-of-10 shooting, and added two steals and one assist.
The Varsity Reds outrebounded the X-Men 41 to 33, including 18 to 5 on the offensive glass, while UNB committed 12 turnovers compared to 19 for StFX.
With the win, the Varsity Reds improve to 13-4 and are tied with PEI for the lead atop the AUS conference. The X-Men fall to 4-14, out of playoff contention.
Before the game, Coupland, Williamson and Arthur were honoured in their final home game for their contributions to the men's basketball program and StFX Athletics.
"He was a main catalyst in the great run we had last season," X-Men head coach Steve Konchalski said of Williamson's effort in the conference playoffs.
The veteran bench boss also praised Arthur for his contributions to the program since transferring from the Dalhousie Tigers.
As well as being a key contributor to the team on the court in his five seasons, Konchalski said Coupland, a co-captain, has "embraced the Antigonish community," noting the student-athlete's work with organizations such as the CACL, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and X-Out Bullying.
Each player was presented with a framed action shot from their time with the X-Men.
In a post-game interview, Coupland - a fan favourite - described his five seasons in the blue and white as a "pleasure."
The Varsity Reds return to action Saturday, February 14, when they face the Dalhousie Tigers in Halifax.
On the same night, the X-Men will hit the hardwood versus the UPEI Panthers in Charlottetown.
Tip-off for both games is 8 p.m.
With files from St.FX Sports Information.
Photo by Erica Roberts