(HALIFAX, NS) The UNB Varsity Reds ended a 51-year Atlantic University Sport men's basketball championship drought, winning the 2018 title with an 84-81 win over the St FX X-Men on Sunday, in Halifax.
Behind 28 points from three-time AUS MVP Javon Masters, U SPORTS all-time scoring leader, the Varsity Reds claimed their first AUS championship since 1967.
St FX's Kevin Bercy, last year's league MVP, scored 33 points and added 12 rebounds in his final conference game.
Tyrell Leotaud, with 13 points, and Ibrahima Doumbouya, with 10, were the only other UNB players in double figures.
For X, Davante Provo had 18 points, Julius Antoine 11 and Jaydan Smith 10.
"It is so much hard work and time and effort that we, as a team, have put in," Masters said. "We were down early to a phenomenal St FX team and Coach Baker told us to never quit. The game is 40 minutes. It looked like the fatigue of three games in three days caught up to them. We just attacked. It was a gritty win."
UNB was fully aware of past failures at Scotiabank Centre and that the team hadn't won since Canada's centennial year.
"I just think it was our mentality," said Masters. "We roll as a wolf pack. We run one through 12. We're just trying to outwork teams. Get them into the fourth quarter and have our fitness and depth take care of it. That's what happened tonight."
The Varsity Reds will join the host Acadia Axemen in the U SPORTS Final 8, beginning Thursday.
The X-Men, helped by 10 turnovers, led 46-39 at the half after leading by as much as 12.
UNB clawed back in the third quarter, with a Jesse Kendall three making it 53-48.
Doumbouya hit a three of his own with 15 seconds left in the third, giving UNB a 62-61 lead.
A Will Legere three gave UNB the lead on their first shot of the fourth quarter, and Masters and Kendall added triples for a two-point lead with six minutes to play.
Leotaud was named Subway Player of the Game and Doumbouya the top defensive player. All-star selections went to Bercy, Doumbouya, Provo, Leotaud and Masters, who was also chosen tournament MVP.