It’s not often the Memorial University men’s basketball team gets to celebrate a win, but that was the case during the weekend when the Sea-Hawks beat Brock Badgers in overtime in the Naismith Classic in Waterloo, Ont.
MUN finished 1-2 at the tournament, but the 86-78 overtime win over Brock was impressive given that it came in the Sea-Hawks’ fourth game in four days. The Sea-Hawks had played the University of Toronto the day before the tournament started.
MUN coach Peter Benoite said there were “lots of positives” to take from the pre-season games.
“Some guys had played a lot of minutes over the last three games, and I was worried we wouldn’t have the legs to run with an athletic Brock team that likes to push the ball in transition,” explained Benoite.
“However, we came out with an effort that was the best we’ve had in preseason and found ourselves up 18-11 after the first quarter.”
MUN, 1-19 in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference play last season, was up by as many as 11 points in the second quarter before allowing Brock to battle back to within two at the half.
Benoite said the third quarter was back and forth, with neither team being in a particularly good offensive rhythm.
“We went into the fourth quarter with a three-point lead and we started to pull ahead in the fourth quarter.”
However, he said, there were some breakdowns on the defensive end.
“We also had some lapses in judgement, that allowed Brock to claw back in the game,” said Benoite.
It didn’t look good for MUN when 6-9 Vasilije Curcic fouled out with 2:24 to play in regulation time.
“The guys didn’t let down,” said Benoite. “If anything, they played tougher.”
As it turned out, Brock rallied to tie the game 70-70 and send it into overtime.
Then, despite the odds, MUN took control early and dominated the extra frame, outscoring the Badgers 16-8 in extra time.
“Pulling out the victory in overtime in our fourth game and playing through some adversity was a big win for us,” said Benoite.
Rookie guard Davion Parnsalu from Ajax, Ont., had a “gutsy performance,” according to the MUN coach. Parnsalu contributed seven rebounds and nine points, including two very strong athletic layups and the end of the game, according to Benoite.
Benoite noted Parnsalu had been out for a few weeks with ankle injuries.
“It was good to get him back into the lineup and help compliment Daniel Foo’s play,” the coach said.
“Obviously, it would have been nice to get another win or two, but it seems we are starting to understand how we have to play, and what it takes to compete day in and day out in the CIS,” said Benoite.
“Now we’ve got to keep that progression building, keep working on our stuff and carry some momentum into the regular AUS season.”
Benoite said the team is hoping to get in an alumni game Nov. 1 or 2 before opening the AUS season at home against Saint Mary’s Huskies Nov 9.
What the win over the Badgers will do for MUN’s confidence this season remains to be seen, but it could be the start of something better for a team desperate for some post-season play.
The Sea-Hawks have finished last in the AUS conference six out of the last seven years. The last time Memorial made the playoffs was the 2005-06 season when the Sea-Hawks finished fourth with a 9-10 record.