HALIFAX (ISN) – The sixth-seeded St. Francis Xavier University X-Men survived a late charge by the No. 5 Fraser Valley Cascades to prevail 89-86 in the bronze medal game of the 50th CIS men’s basketball championship, presented by Subway, Sunday afternoon at the Metro Centre.
Championship website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mbkb/index
The AUS finalist X-Men return to Antigonish, N.S., with a 2-1 Final 8 record. The crowd favourites upset No. 3 Concordia 98-82 in Friday’s quarter-final round before dropping a 91-83 decision to No. 2 Alberta in Saturday’s semis.
The Cascades, conference finalists this year in only their sixth Canada West season, end their first-ever CIS tournament appearance with a 1-2 mark. They beat No. 4 Lakehead 83-71 in the opening round and lost 83-65 to top-seeded Carleton on Saturday.
“I told the players before the game that they had to play for pride. A bronze medal is still a medal,” said StFX head coach Steve Konchalski. “This win was also our 30th of the season, something this program has only achieved once before in my 37 years. The guys can be proud of that. Hopefully we can build on this, come back next year and change the colour of this medal.”
Jeremy Dunn, a fourth-year forward from Wolfville, N.S., earned player-of-the-game honours for the winners after he tallied 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
“We had a great season and it’s definitely nice to finish with a win,” said Dunn, who shot 9-of-15 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from three-point range. “It’s not the game we wanted to play in, but it’s still a win on Sunday.”
Three other X-Men scored in double figures in the victory, including all-Canadian Terry Thomas of East Preston, N.S., and Shane Coupland of Australia, with 13 apiece, as well as Tyrell Vernon of Hamilton, with 12.
StFX was out-rebounded 42-34 but scored 30 points off of turnovers compared to 16 for its rivals. Both teams finished with almost identical field goal percentages, Fraser Valley hitting on 49.3 per cent of its attempts and StFX on 49.2.
In the losing effort, Kyle Grewal, a fourth-year forward from Surrey, B.C., had a monstrous outing for the Cascades with 35 points and 14 rebounds. The Fraser Valley game MVP was good on 14 of 21 field goal attempts, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Teammates Joel Friesen of Abbotsford, B.C., and James York of Richland, Wash., scored 11 points apiece, while Jasper Moedt and rookie Jordan Blackman, both from Abbotsford, each had 10.
“We showed some good fight coming back at the end. We’re disappointed today but when we look back at our season, we’ll be proud of what we accomplished this year,” said Fraser Valley head coach Barnaby Craddock.
The score was tied at 16-16 after the opening quarter but StFX dominated the second frame 30-19 to take an 11-point lead to the locker room at the break.
Still up by 11 after 30 minutes (71-60), the X-Men looked to be in total control and led by as much as 16 points in the fourth quarter, at 79-63, when the Cascades mounted a comeback to provide the Metro Centre fans with an entertaining finish.
Grewal cut the lead to 86-83 with 57 seconds left after taking a nice inbound pass under the basket. The Cascades came back to within two at 88-86 with 10 seconds left and, after a Dunn free throw made it a three-point affair, they had 3.2 seconds to hit a trey to force overtime.
Unfortunately for the Canada West finalists, an errant inbound pass prevented them from even attempting a potential game-tying shot.
Scoring by quarter:
StFX 16-30-25-18: 89
UFV 16-19-25-26: 86
Points: Jeremy Dunn (28), Terry Thomas (13), Shane Coupland (13)
Rebounds: Jeremy Dunn (8), Shane Coupland (7)
Assists: Jeremy Dunn (6), Tyrell Vernon (6)
Subway player of the game: Jeremy Dunn
Points: Kyle Grewal (35), Joel Friesen (11), James York (11)
Rebounds: Kyle Grewal (14), Jasper Moedt (7)
Assists: James York (6)
Subway player of the game: Kyle Grewal