X-Men handle Capers 104-79 for third straight win

Photo credit Vaughan Merchant
Photo credit Vaughan Merchant

Sydney, NS – The visiting STFX X-Men (3-0) scored early and often – and never let up – to earn a 104-79 victory over the host Cape Breton University (CBU) Capers in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men's basketball action on Friday evening at Sullivan Fieldhouse.

In a blistering start to the first quarter, the X-Men took an early eight-point edge – at 13-5 – keyed by a pair of three-pointers from Avan Nava (Mississauga, ON) and a sensational fast break reverse lay-up from Dondre Reddick (Antigonish, NS).

Defending AUS most valuable player Osman 'Ozzy' Omar (Mississauga, ON) sparked the Caper offense, scoring the first eight points for his team.

Keyed by a traditional three-point play from Antoine Vernon (Hamilton, ON) and a pair of baskets on the interior from forward David Muenkat (Brampton, ON), the X-Men lead ballooned to 24-10 with four minutes remaining in the opening stanza.

Omar, with another hoop, battled to keep his Capers within striking distance, after they had fallen behind 30-14.

The X-Men, who never took their collective foot off the pedal in the opening 10 minutes, led 37-18 heading to the second quarter.

The White and Blue were unconscious from the field – shooting at an incredible 76.2 per cent clip (16-for-21) – while dominating in the paint with a 20-8 scoring advantage.

Omar finished with 12 out of 18 points for CBU, who shot 46.2 per cent from the field, but only attempted 13 shots.

In the second quarter, the X-Men continued to sizzle, with Deon Ejim (Brampton, ON) sinking a three-pointer to make it 47-22 midway through the stanza.

Spurred by a couple of defensive stands – along with a tough jumper over a defender and sweet fast-break lay-up from Omar – the Capers narrowed the deficit to 49-28 with four minutes remaining until halftime.

Omar, the first-team All-Canadian, continued his electrifying effort with a three-point play and a soaring drive to the hoop to make it 52-33 for the X-Men, while getting some help from guard Tyson Cato (Ajax, ON), who chipped in a pair of baskets.

But, whenever CBU threatened, STFX answered, with Nava nailing a three-pointer to extend the White and Blue lead to 60-37 with less than three minutes remaining in the second quarter.

STFX's shooting only cooled off slightly in the second quarter, dipping into the 60 per cent range, but remaining at a stellar level, which included 10 three-point shots in the first half.

Omar, with a highlight-reel 23-point performance, led all scorers in the first 20 minutes.

The X-Men took a one-sided 65-40 lead to the locker room at halftime.

In the third quarter, sparked by a 17-3 burst over the first four minutes, the Capers sliced the X-Men advantage to 68-57.

First-year guard Justus Peuser (Geisenheim, Germany) lit the fuse with a hoop-and-harm three-point play, while Cato followed with six consecutive points, including a basket from beyond the arc. Omar then tacked on six of his own with three free throws and a three-pointer.

The X-Men steadied the ship in the latter part of the third quarter, keyed by a three-pointer and blocked shot from Ejim on consecutive plays, along with a pair of Nava free throws and a shot from downtown, finishing the stanza on a 14-6 spurt.

STFX led 82-63 heading to the fourth quarter.

In that final frame, the sides traded baskets for most of the first five minutes, with the X-Men maintaining a 21-point spread – at 89-68 – by the midway point.

The Capers could draw no closer than points the rest of the way.

Nava – the Subway player of the game - led a balanced X-Men attack with 24 points, including a seven-for-nine performance from downtown, while Ejim, with 14, Reddick (13), Michael Utsalo (Brampton, ON) (12) and Muenkat (12) also reached double digits. Muenkat and James finished with a game-high nine rebounds apiece.

Omar led the Capers with a game-high 30 points, while adding five rebounds and two assists. Cato also reached double digits – with 18 – while chipping in seven rebounds.  

Live Kivuvu (Harrow, England) and Jason Callaghan (Sydney, NS) also reached double digits with 12 and 10 points, respectively.  

The match-up was the opener of a home-and-home weekend series between the sides, with the teams returning to action on Sunday, Nov. 6, in Antigonish.

Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. on Coach K Court at the Saputo Centre on the STFX campus.


Recap courtesy Corey LeBlanc