Sea-Hawks sweep Panthers off the floor in AUS men's basketball
It was hard to find someone at the Field House Sunday who remembered the last time a Memorial Sea-Hawks men’s basketball team scored over 100 points, let alone swept a two-game Atlantic University Sport (AUS) series.
That’s just what they did this weekend, capping off the final home games of the season with a brilliant 103-97 victory over the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers Sunday.
Actually, you have to go back to 2010 when MUN scored 108 points in a win over Saint Mary’s at the Field House. Even then they couldn’t sweep the series.
The Sea-Hawks opened the series with a hard-fought 83-78 victory Saturday night with the help of a 28-point, 12-rebound effort from Vasilije Curcic.
Down by 14 points at one point in Sunday’s game, the Sea-Hawks regrouped and pulled it all together in the second half for the second time in two days and were full value for the win.
The Sea-Hawks were led by standout rookie Davion Parnsalu who sank a career-high 32 points with seven assists. Caleb Gould and Curcic had strong games with 19 points each, with the latter delivering another dozen boards.
Parnsalu, who looks more and more comfortable at the helm of the team each game out, said that as the point guard his job is to lead the team and he’s put in hard work to get the ball to his teammates and make his shots.
He’s been doing all of that lately.
“If I have an off game my teammates will step up. That’s what we all did today and we got two big wins,” Parnsalu added.
Parnsalu, who admitted he struggled from the free throw line Saturday night, went four-for-four in the last minute of the game as MUN was able to hold its lead under pressure. He finished 18-21 from the charity stripe.
“Today I made up for it,” the Ajax, Ont., native said of his free throw struggles (2-8) in the opener, “and that was my goal.”
MUN freshman Jacob Ranton, who scored 16 points off the bench in nine minutes of floor time, said “It was good to finally get two (in a row). We got a lot of contribution from the bench this weekend.”
Ranton said it was “huge” for the team to be able to play two solid second halfs against the Panthers.
“We’ve struggled with that all season. There have been a bunch of games where we’ve been up in the fourth quarter but unable to pull it out. It’s really good to show that we are capable of doing that now.”
MUN coach Peter Benoite looked as much relieved as happy after Sunday’s big win.
“I just liked our effort and our intensity,” said Benoite, who was obviously satisfied with the double win.
“I told our guys after Saturday night’s game that even if we’d lost, I would have been happy with the way we played. We’re starting to figure out the effort we’ve got to give and how we want to play on offence and defence to be successful.”
MUN has been plagued all season with third and fourth-quarter letdowns, but as painful as the process was, said Benoite, “it’s something you have to go through.
“Once you go through it and get that maturity, you learn how to deal with it. Sometimes, the only way to learn is to get some scrapes and bruises along the way.”
Memorial improved to 4-14 to stay ahead of last-place Dalhousie Tigers by two points, while the Panthers fell from second to fourth place on a 10-9 record.
Memorial, which is out of playoff contention, finishes out the season next weekend at Saint Mary’s in Halifax.
Memorial 103, UPEI 97
Parnsalu, 32 points, 7 reb.
Vasilije Curcic, 19 pts., 12 reb., 3 blocks
Caleb Gould, 19 pts.
Jacob Ranton, 16 pts., 8 reb.
Deontay Smith, 19 pts.
MUN 38; UPEI 42
MUN 52.2; UPEI 39.6
27/33; UPEI 13/18
UPEI 35; MUN 18
MUN 6/15; UPEI 8/36
UPEI 27; MUN 24
Memorial 83, UPEI 78
Curcic, 28 pts., 12 reb., 7 asst., 2 blocks
MUN 49; UPEI 44
UPEI 34.9; MUN 45
MUN 7/11; UPEI 9/13
MUN 4/18; UPEI 9/13
MUN 17; UPEI 13
UPEI 19; MUN 22