They had a great start and they were pretty good at the finish, but for the St. John’s Edge, that was far from enough to produce a winning result Sunday afternoon in London, Ont.
It was the middle of the contest that was the undoing for the Edge as they fell 116-103 to the defending National Basketball League of Canada champion London Lightning.
In its final game of 2017, St. John’s jumped out to a 34-21 lead after the first 12 minutes, but after that, the Lightning turned up the voltage and jolted the visitors, outscoring them by a combined 70-33 in the second and third quarters.
The Edge (8-4) did close the gap in the fourth quarter, outscoring London 39-25 in the late going as both sides made extensive use of their benches, but it was far from enough to prevent St. John’s from suffering its biggest loss — in terms of margin — so far this season.
Carl English led the Edge with 26 points, but was in foul trouble for most of the second half, picking up his fifth personal midway through the third quarter.
Grandy Glaze added 16 points and eight rebounds for St. John’s.
Charles Hinkle, who had scored 53 points — the second-highest one-game total in NBL Canada history — in the Edge’s 103-99 win over the Windsor Express on Friday night — was held to 12 points by the Lightning.
Hinkle’s big game in Windsor included 12 successful three-pointers, part of a phenomenal 19-for-33 performance by St. John’s when it came to long bombs. However, there was no repeat performance in the follow-up contest; the Edge were a woeful 6-for-32 from beyond the arc on Sunday, with English making all but one of those half-dozen treys.
Kyle Johnson, playing his first game of the season for London, had a game-high 31 points.
The 28-year-old shooting guard had been part of the Lightning’s championship run last season and holds the franchise record for points in a game (51). A native of Scarborough, Ont., Johnson holds dual Canadian-British citizenship and the former Long Island University star has played internationally for the United Kingdom, including at the 2012 Olympic Games. Most recently, he was with part of the British squad competing at the European basketball championship.
With reigning NBL Canada MVP Royce White serving a league suspension, the Lightning were looking for offence, and they got it from the 6-5 Johnson, who didn’t start Sunday and was pointless in five minutes of play in the opening quarter.
But he poured in 15 points in the second quarter and 12 more in the third for London (3-5), which also got big contributions from Garrett Williamson, who had 22 points; Marcus Capers, with 18; and Ryan Anderson, who posted 14 points and 13 rebounds for the game’s only double-double.
It was London’s first win over St. John’s in three games this season; the Lightning were swept by the Edge in two games at Mile One Centre earlier this month.
Former Memorial Sea-Hawks start Vasilije Curcic, signed by the Edge last week, scored his first professional points on a couple of late foul shots. The 27-year-old from Serbia had made his NBL Canada debut Friday in Windsor, but played less than a minute against the Express. He saw considerably more floor time Sunday as head coach Jeff Dunlap utilized his non-starters more than he has in most other games this season.
With the Edge not playing any more league games until 2018, the Edge players and coaches are dispersing for the holiday season before reassembling in St. John’s a few days after Christmas. Even then, they’ll have a bit of wait for game action — their next matchup isn’t until Jan. 9, when they host Windsor at Mile One.
Alex Johnson, who led St. John’s with six assists versus the Lightning, had 12 points … Jarion Henry, who has been a key — if not the key — bench player for the Edge through 12 games, had nine points and eight rebounds Sunday … St. John’s is 4-4 in its first eight road game of the season … Even though Hinkle had just a dozen points Sunday, he finished the Edge’s road trip through southern Ontario averaging 29 points and almost 10 rebounds in three games … Through Sunday’s games, English (25.5 ppg) and Hinkle (23.1) sit second and fourth in league scoring. Gabe Freeman of the Saint John Riptide leads with a 26.7 average … Glaze continues to be the league’s top rebounder, averaging 11. 1 boards per game. He’s also tops in field goal percentage at 58.9 … White was suspended by the league for three games after getting into a confrontation with Niagara River Lions players after he was ejected from a game last week. The ejection was for striking the River Lions’ Marvell Waithe, something that led to a separate one-game suspension …