For the St. John’s Edge, call this game the one that got away.
Wednesday night at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont., the Edge held a 10-point lead with less than 90 seconds left in regulation, but the London Lightning battled back to force overtime and went on to win 121-115 in a matchup of the National Basketball League of Canada’s top teams.
The win was the Lightning's 11th in a row, a streak that started last month with another home-court win over St. John's.
This is how the game went:
• The Lightning was in front just once in regulation. That was when they went up 2-0 in the game’s first shot, a layup by Garrett Williamson. But before the first minute was up, St. John’s had a lead it would extend to 18 points by halftime.
• The Edge were still ahead by 16 at the end of the third. The Lightning closed to with six points with about eight minutes left into the fourth quarter, but St. John’s went on another run, and was up 97-80 with just over four minutes remaining.
• However, the Lightning staged a furious comeback, outscoring the Edge 23-6 over the last 4:04, with 13 of London’s points coming in the last 1:26. Over the same 86 seconds, St. John’s missed all three of its shots from the floor and went three-for-six from the free-throw line.
• London’s Doug Herring hit a jumper with nine seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 103-103. Edge guard Alex Johnson could have won it with three seconds remaining, but couldn’t get his jump shot to go in and the teams were off to OT.
• In the five-minute extra frame, St. John’s didn’t get much to fall, going just four-for 16 from the field. Meanwhile, the Lightning only took five shots in OT, but sank four of them. That, along with 10 made free throws, was more than enough to put the game away for the home side.
Perhaps it was fatigue — they were playing their sixth game in nine days, with travel — but the Edge’s shooting certainly deteriorated in the game’s late stages. St. John’s success rate from the field was nearly 50 per cent (33-for-69) in the first three quarters, but just 27 per cent (eight-for-30) in the fourth and OT.
The Edge will also regret a poor night at the free-throw line, making just 19 of their 32 charity-stripe tosses. That hurt in a game where one more make in regulation would have delivered a win.
With leading scorer Carl English missing a third straight game because of injury, the Edge spread the offence around Wednesday, with eight different players in double digits offensively. Johnson led the way with 19 points and eight assists, while Coron Williams had 17 in just his second game with St. John’s.
Desmond Lee and Jarion Henry had 15. Henry, in the starting lineup with English sidelined, had a double-double with a team-leading 13 rebounds.
Charles Hinkle and Grandy Glaze each had 12 points and eight boards.
But in this case, a lot of decent individual numbers didn’t add up to a win that would have tied St. John’s with London for the overall league lead.
As it was, the Lightning improved to 12-5, while St. John’s fell to 11-7 and 0-2 at the start of a five-game road trip that began with a loss to the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans Tuesday afternoon.
Reigning league MVP Royce White led London with 24 points, while Williamson had 23 and Herring added 21.
Today is the only day off for the Edge during their swing through southern Ontario. The busy playing schedule resumes Friday night in St. Catharines against the Niagara River Lions, continues Saturday night in Windsor versus the Express and ends Sunday afternoon with another matchup against Niagara.