(FREDERICTON, NB) The UNB Varsity Reds got the win, but more importantly, they earned the bye in the first round of the Subway Atlantic University Sport Championship.
Javon Masters(Kitchener, ON) scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Varsity Reds in a 93-84 win over the St FX X-Men. Masters also had eight assists.
The win, in a four point game, moved UNB into second place in the AUS standings on the last day of the regular season.
Will Legere(Amherst, NS) came off the Varsity Reds bench to score 24 points on 9-for-10 field goal shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds, and was named the Subway Player of the Game.
For Legere, the game had a playoff feel to it.
"It's good preparation," he said. "I know we're not in the Metro Centre, but playing a good team like X, that's what we have to be ready for. Physical, 40 minutes of hard work, so I think it was a good building stone, coming back from last night's loss."
Julius Antoine(Vaughan, ON) led the X-Men with 22 points, while Kevin Bercy(Kanata, ON) added 19 points and 12 rebounds, recording the double-double.
"It's disappointing. We should've come out with a lot more energy," said Bercy. "Through most of our season so far, we feel like we've beat ourselves. I feel like today, we could've played better defence, and on the offensive side we weren't swinging the ball and we were playing selfish basketball."
The Varsity Reds raced out to an 11-2 lead, capped by a Masters three point bucket, but the X-Men rallied with a 6-0 run.
UNB led 22-15 after the first quarter.
X pulled even late in the second quarter, tying the score 36-36, but a 7-0 UNB run allowed the home team to take a 45-38 lead into half-time.
The X-Men would tie the game again, midway through the third quarter, but the Varsity Reds wouldn't let them take the lead.
In the end, UNB pulled away to win 93-84 on a night the Varsity Reds celebrated their graduating players.
Jesse Kendall(Guelph, ON), Spencer Dawson(Hamilton, ON), Ravaugh Gayle(Scarborough, ON), Hess Mayele(Laval, QC), Dylan Baker(Narre Warren South, AUS) and Masters, who leaves UNB as the all-time leading scorer in U SPORTS men's basketball history.
"It's so surreal," said Masters. "It goes by so fast. A countless amount of games, so many memories made here. I can't even fathom it right now, to think I've played my last game here."
The Varsity Reds finish the season with a 16-and-4 record, while St FX finishes 9-and-11.
Both teams move on to the conference championship tournament, next weekend, in Halifax.
The No. 5 X-Men will face No. 4 Acadia in Friday's first quarter-final game. The winner will take on the Dalhousie Tigers in the semi-finals.
The No. 2 Varsity Reds await the winner of Friday's other semi-final, between No. 3 Saint Mary's and No. 6 Memorial. UNB's semi-final game goes at 8:30, on Saturday.
RECAP AND PHOTOS BY: Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics