(HALIFAX, NS) - (U SPORTS) - The Brock Badgers live to play another day at the U SPORTS men's basketball championship, in Halifax, advancing to Sunday's consolation final after beating the UNB Varsity Reds 81-65 on Saturday afternoon.
Veterans Johneil Simpson and Dani Elgadi did the majority of the damage, with a combined 57 points on 59 percent shooting.
"The biggest thing we take away from today is our growth," said Badgers head coach Charles Kissi. "When we played Calgary, we went down early and we never really recovered until it was too late. This time we went down seven and recovered immediately after the first few minutes. Game to game we grew a little bit and it's something I'm proud of this group for."
It took Brock four minutes to hit the scoreboard. After Elgadi split a pair of free throws, the Badgers reeled off seven more points to pull ahead 8-7, forcing UNB to call a timeout. The breather did little to help, as the Badgers extended their lead 17-9 at the end of one. Simpson and Elgadi scored seven apiece to start.
"We did a good job executing," said Simpson, who recorded a game-high 29 points and 11 rebounds. "Coach had a pretty good game plan and my teammates did a good job finding me. I was just ready to play. I hit some shots, got my rhythm going and we had some success because of it."
After starting the game shooting a respectable 3-of-6, the Varsity Reds fell flat the rest of quarter, scoring just two points on 1-of-14 shooting from the field.
"Our bench has been our strength most of the year. We had a good 7-0 run, we brought our bench in and they didn't perform at the level they usually do," said Varsity Reds head coach Brent Baker. "The other part of it is they went on a 17-0 run against our players off the bench, who usually compete and give us a little lift and that was the margin that turned the game. The damage was done in that first quarter."
Javon Masters drilled a pair of threes halfway through the second quarter to bring his team within three, 24-21. But the Badgers closed the half on a 16-4 run to take a 40-25 lead into the break. Elgadi continued to torch the Varsity Reds with 18 first-half points. He finished with 28 points and nine rebounds.
Simpson took on the scoring responsibility in the third quarter as Brock carried a 58-41 lead into the final 10 minutes.
UNB trimmed it to 12 early in the fourth, but that's as close they got as Brock came away with the 81-65 win, ending Masters' brilliant career in the process.
"I'm proud of what we accomplished this year," Masters said. "Like coach said, 51 years and now the drought is over. That was one of our main goals - to win our conference."