The Memorial Sea-Hawks, up by 24 points at one point in the second half, managed to lose 65-64 to Acadia Axemen in a stunning reversal of fortune Sunday afternoon at the Field House in Atlantic Universities Sport (AUS) men's basketball.
Even as they crumbled, the Sea-Hawks still managed to take a one-point lead when Jason Shepherd hit two free throws with 5.8 seconds left on the clock.
But Acadia got the ball in the hot hands of top scorer Casey Fox on the in-bounds and Fox, who finished with a game-high 21 points, delivered in the clutch with 1.3 ticks on the clock.
When the buzzer sounded, the Axemen jumped around in celebration while the Sea-Hawks looked in shock at the other end of the court.
We fought hard," said Fox after what he called a "satisfying" win. "We weren't getting a lot of calls our way in the first half. Coach (Stephen Baur) just told us to settle down, work hard and play defence. We went into a zone and just prevented them (MUN) from getting to the basket."
And while they were shutting down MUN's offense, the Axemen managed to go on a 9-0 run and a 10-0 run in the second half.
As his players walked quietly off the court, MUN coach Peter Benoite sat for several minutes in silence just glancing at the scoresheet, perhaps checking to see if the final score was for real.
"Were not ready to win yet," said an obviously despondent and visibly upset Benoite. "We're competing and playing hard, but we don't know how to win yet. We see changes in the game and we don't adjust or we get too hesitant.
"Our guys who are supposed to be experienced just don't have the close-game experience. We just got tentative," added Benoite. "We've got to learn to play when were ahead and put teams away. We didn't put them (Acadia) away when we had the opportunities.
"We didn't handle the trap well only because we became hesitant," noted Benoite. "The trap didn't hurt us in the first half because we moved the ball. We stopped moving the ball and that was a glaring mistake."
Acadia basically stole the game with 15 steals as Memorial turned the ball over 22 times.
One obvious example of MUN's frustrating play was Steve Earles. A second-year centre, Earles scored 26 points in a 93-80 loss to the Axemen Saturday night and looked impressive with 14-first-half points Sunday afternoon. However, he managed only three points in the second half and turned the ball over three times in the final two minutes of the game. Of course, he wasn't the only one in red and white who coughed up the ball or made poor decisions. There was plenty of issues, from sloppy ball handling to questionable passes to missed open shots.
Rookie Mike Helsby and Shepherd each netted 12 points for MUN, which led 39-20 at the half.
Fox enjoys the razzing
Fox said it didn't bother him to get hassled by a small group of MUN supporters in the final quarter of the game. In fact, he seemed to be having a bit of fun playing along with them.
"That's what fans do. I'm glad MUN showed something," said the six-foot-four, second-year guard from Halifax, N.S. "A lot of schools don't get the fan support they need. Memorial is a tough place to play and we needed these (two wins)."
Acadia 65, Memorial 64 (Sunday)
Steve Earles, 17 points, 7 rebounds
Mike Helsby, 12 point
Robbie Habit, 7 points
Ante Mazol, 7 points, rebounds
Casey Fox, 21 points
Acadia 37; MUN 33
MUN 22; Acadia 16
Acadia 18-31; MUN 23-37
MUN 34.4; Acadia 34.4
Acadia 3-20; MUN 3-14
Acadia 93, MUN 80 (Saturday)
Steve Earles, 26 points, 5 rebounds
Mike Helsby, 24 points, 8 rebounds
Robbie Habib, 12 points
Jason Shepherd, 7 points, 5 rebounds
Casey Fox, 25 points
MUN 48; Acadia: 51.4
MUN 3-10; Acadia 9-19
MUN 29-36; Acadia 12-14
MUN 26; Acadia 29
MUN 20; Acadia 11