HALIFAX (ISN) – Second-seeded University of Alberta Golden Bears will play for the W.P. McGee Trophy for the first time in a decade on Sunday thanks to a 91-83 victory over the No. 6 St. Francis Xavier X-Men in the second semifinal of the 50th CIS men’s basketball championship, presented by Subway, Saturday night in front of 5789 at the Metro Centre.
Championship website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mbkb/index
The Canada West champion Bears return to the gold medal final for the first time since 2002, when they edged Western 76-71 to claim the third national title in program history. Alberta also hoisted the McGee Trophy in 1994 and 1995.
Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Atlantic, live on EastLink TV and ssncanada.ca, the Bears will face the top-seeded Carleton Ravens, who last year captured their ninth CIS banner in nine seasons. Carleton beat Fraser Valley 83-65 in Saturday’s early semifinal.
The AUS finalist X-Men will battle Fraser Valley in the bronze medal match at 1:15 p.m. AT on Sunday.
Daniel Ferguson was named Alberta game MVP for the second straight night. After scoring 23 points Friday in a first-round win over Ryerson, the fifth-year guard from Malton, Ont., never left the court against StFX and netted a match-high 31 in 40 minutes of action.
The second member of the Bears’ dynamic duo, all-Canadian Jordan Baker, once again had a great all-around effort and finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. The third-year guard from Edmonton tallied 26 points against Ryerson in the quarter-finals.
Sahr Saffa, another native of Edmonton, also scored in double figures for the winners, with 18.
“Daniel makes my job very easy. He wants it so much, he sets the pace and everybody follows. He’s a phenomenal shooter,” said Alberta head coach Greg Francis, in his third campaign at the helm.
Ferguson and Francis both relish the challenge of facing the defending champions in the final.
“We’re going to need a complete team effort against Carleton,” said Ferguson, the top scorer this season among players at the CIS tournament with 19.6 points per game. “Ferguson and Baker, that won’t be enough. Carleton is way too good to beat them without a total effort from the whole team.”
“We’re going to have to make Phil (Scrubb) and Tyson (Hinz) work hard for every shot. They are such fantastic players,” Francis said. “And they will have to do the same with our two big guys, Daniel and Jordan.”
After scoring a tournament-high 39 points Friday against Concordia, sophomore guard Terry Thomas, an all-Canadian from East Preston, N.S., was once again named player of the game for StFX following a 22-point, 10-rebound double-double.
Jeremy Dunn of Wolfville, N.S., and Bol Kong of Vancouver also contributed offensively for the X-Men with 21 and 16 points, respectively.
“I give them full credit, they played a very good game,” said StFX head coach Steve Konchalski. “We struggled a little defensively. They managed to contain Terry a little better than we contained their big guys.”
The contest was very close until the midway point of the fourth quarter, when Alberta started to pull away. The Bears led 20-15 after one period, 43-38 at halftime and 64-57 after 30 minutes.
The X-Men took an early 13-6 lead on a Thomas layup but Alberta closed out the opening quarter with a 14-2 run.
The Bears remained in front until the six-minute mark of the second frame when Kong made it 31-30 StFX with a basket and a free throw. Once again though, Alberta finished strong and outscored its rivals 13-7 the rest of the way to go into the break up by five.
It was much of the same in the third. After StFX came back to take a 51-50 lead, the Canada west champs dominated the rest of the quarter 13-3 for the seven-point advantage after 30 minutes.
Back-to-back Saffa three-pointer all but sealed the Bears’ victory in the final stanza. The third-year forward connected from beyond the arc with 6:26 remaining to make it 71-64 and again with 5:54 left to up the score to 74-66.
Jordan put the game out of reach for good with a three-point shot of his own that made it a 10-point affair, at 84-74, with 1:19 on the clock.
Alberta finished with a slim 41-37 edge in rebounds. The Bears made 50.8 per cent of their field goals on the night, compared to 40.8 for their AUS rivals. Second-point chances were also a factor, with Alberta dominating 23-9 in that category.
NOTES: Alberta and Carleton have met twice in the past at the CIS championship. The Ravens prevailed 66-57 in the first round in 2008 and 75-71 in the 1965 bronze medal game.
Scoring by quarter:
ALB 20-23-21-27: 91
StFX 15-23-19-26: 83
Points: Daniel Ferguson (31), Jordan Baker (20), Sahr Saffa (18)
Rebounds: Jordan Baker (9), Daniel Ferguson (6)
Assists: Jordan Baker (7),
Subway player of the game: Daniel Ferguson
Points: Terry Thomas (22), Jeremy Dunn (21), Bol Kong (16)
Rebounds: Terry Thomas (10), Bol Kong (6)
Assists: Tyrell Vernon (4), Bol Kong (4)
Subway player of the game: Terry Thomas