Antigonish, NS - On the strength of a 30-point fourth quarter, the StFX X-Men (4-3) defeated the rival Saint Mary's Huskies (4-3) 91-81 in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) basketball regular season action Saturday night at Oland Centre.
In the first quarter, the X-Men jumped to an early 9-6 edge, led by seven points from Kevin Bercy (Kanata, ON)
Brian Rouse (Toronto, ON), of the Huskies, keyed an 8-2 run, with a highlight-reel lay-up, which gave the visitors a 14-11 lead.
Led by five consecutive points from sophomore shooting guard Tristen Ross (Truro, NS), including a three-pointer, the teams were knotted 18-18.
On a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Theon Reefer (Toronto, ON), Saint Mary's took a 21-18 advantage after the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Ross, who finished with 20 points, on seven-for-nine shooting, made back-to-back baskets for the X-Men.
After a put-back by freshman forward Tristan Hyde (Bedford, NS), the Huskies took their largest lead - 31-24.
Davonte Provo (East Preston, NS) capped a 9-0 spurt, with a three-pointer, to give the X-Men a 33-31 edge.
With another Ross three-pointer, the X-Men run stretched to 16-2, which extended the lead to 40-33.
The Huskies ended the first half on a 6-2 run, which trimmed the X-Men lead to 42-39, heading to the locker room.
In the opening minute of the third quarter, on baskets from Rouse and Reefer, the Huskies quickly regained the lead, at 43-42.
Provo put the exclamation point on a 6-0 X-Men burst with a dazzling drive and basket, which made it 48-43 for the home side.
After a sweeping left-handed drive across the lane by Huskies' big man Achuil Lual (Ottawa, ON) the sides were deadlocked 48-48.
The teams went back-and-forth for the rest of the quarter, with the X-Men emerging with a slim 61-60 edge.
Early in the fourth quarter, after a deep three-pointer from freshman Justin Andrew (Hamilton, ON), and another from Ross from beyond the arc, the X-Men led 68-64.
With just more than four minutes remaining in regulation, Bercy canned a key three-point shot, which gave StFX a 76-70 lead, while on the next play the veteran forward drew a charging call against Saint Mary's.
The X-Men sealed the deal late, led by a couple more defensive gems from Bercy, including a blocked shot, and another Andrew three-pointer, which made it 87-78, with just less than one minute remaining.
Bercy, who finished with a game-high 22 points, while adding eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks, earned Subway player of the game honours. Rouse, who collected 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal, was named top player for the Huskies.
Along with Bercy and Ross, Provo also scored in double digits, with 13, while adding a game-high nine assists, six rebounds and one steal. Off the bench, Andrew contributed eight points and five rebounds, while starting forward Cameron Walker (Dallas, TX) garnered eight points and 10 rebounds.
Reefer finished with a team-high 21 points, while adding seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Lual fashioned a double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Marquis Clayton (Halifax, NS) contributed 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and one steal.
The match-up served as the wrap-up to the pre-Chrismas schedule for both teams.
The X-Men will return to action Friday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m., when they host the Acadia Axemen. On the next night, the Huskies will visit the Memorial Sea-Hawks in St. John's, NL, in a 8 p.m. NST start.