UNB Stuns MUN In Comeback

Varsity Reds guard Javon Masters(Kitchener, ON) looks to move the ball during first half action, on Saturday, against Memorial. UNB came from behind to beat the Sea-Hawks 89-78. (Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics)
Varsity Reds guard Javon Masters(Kitchener, ON) looks to move the ball during first half action, on Saturday, against Memorial. UNB came from behind to beat the Sea-Hawks 89-78. (Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics)

(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB Varsity Reds scored 60 second half points in an 89-78 come from behind victory over the visiting Memorial Sea-Hawks.

Down 43-29 at the half, the Varsity Reds fell behind even further early in the third quarter, trailing by as much as 20 before a furious rally.

The VReds scored 30 points in the third quarter and 30 more in the fourth, improving to 6-and-4 on the season.

Javon Masters(Kitchener, ON) scored 27 points to lead UNB.

Hess Mayele(Montreal, QC) came off the bench to score 14 points and pull down a dozen rebounds. Chris Spurrell(Rothesay, NB) also scored 14 for the Varsity Reds.

Vasilije Curcic(Kragujevac, SER) led all scorers with 28 for the Sea-Hawks.

Davion Parnsalu(Ajax, ON) added 18.

With 5:33 to play in the third quarter, Curcic made a pair of free throws to give Memorial a 53-33 lead.

Eager to turn the tide, Varsity Reds head coach Brent Baker subbed in veterans Dylan Baker(Narre Warren South, AUS) and Kaleefah Henry(Brampton, ON).

The two took over defensively, but were quick to contribute on offence.

Baker played set-up man while Henry knocked down critical field goals and a three-point shot that started the UNB turnaround.

"All they did was go in and gut it out and play a heck of a lot of defence and got us some stops," said Coach Baker. "With those stops we got some conversion and Hess got going and made some plays too."

By the end of the third quarter, the Varsity Reds had reduced the deficit to just five, trailing 64-59.

The home side took a 67-66 lead early in the fourth quarter, then traded the lead with the Sea-Hawks before pulling away.

Spurrell and Masters sunk key three point shots down the stretch, bringing the Currie Center crowd to its feet each time.

Masters' three, with 1:02 to play, put UNB up 86-76 and forced Memorial to call time out.

The defending U Sports scoring champ stood at half court and raised his arms as the appreciative crowd showered him with cheers.

The crowd of 972 remained on their feet as the Varsity Reds completed the improbable comeback.

"When your team is down, that's when you have to coach your butt off and that's what I'm going to do. If you don't show fight, they're not going to show fight," said Baker.

"This was pretty special," said Mayele. "Everyone thought we were going to lose, but we stopped thinking about the score and just played hard."

Emerging from a very quiet Memorial dressing room, Sea-Hawks head coach Peter Benoite was blunt.

"We forgot the game was 40 minutes," he said. "We thought it was over and it wasn't. Good on UNB. They got on a run and we weren't able to stop that run."

"We turned the ball over 22 times. 22 times… and we didn't do what we needed to do in the second half," said Benoite.

The Sea-Hawks are now 7-and-4 and sitting second in the Atlantic University Sport standings.

The Varsity Reds and Sea-Hawks meet again, Sunday afternoon.

Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00PM Atlantic, at UNB's Richard J. Currie Center.