The magic number for the St. John’s Edge to clinch home-court advantage for the first round of the National Basketball League of Canada playoffs remains at two after a 108-95 loss to the Windsor Express Saturday night.
As it stands, St. John’s would open the post-season with a Central Division semifinal against the Express and a win over Windsor would have ensured they would have an extra game at Mile One in the series. However, Saturday’s result means the Edge still requires some combination of wins or Express losses adding up to two in order to get that advantage.
The Edge (22-14), who have four regular-season games remaining, and the Express (19-16), with five game left, don’t face each other again this season.
The loss in Windsor also dented the Edge’s aspirations for home-court advantage beyond the first round, especially as the league-leading Halifax Hurricanes (24-11) and Central Division-leading London Lightning (23-13) both won Sunday. What’s more, the Hurricanes and London each would prevail in a tiebreaker should either end up with the same record as St. John’s.
Saturday, in their first game of what will be a three-game road trip — their final regular-season away games — the Edge got the game’s opening basket from Ryan Reid, but Maurice Jones sank a three-pointer a minute later to give the Express took a lead they would not relinquish.
St. John’s stayed relatively close for much of the game, played before an announced crowd of less than a thousand at the WFCU Centre, but was outscored in every quarter.
One of the glaring statistical differences was in three-point shooting, where the Edge had just a 23 per cent success rate (7-for-30), almost 15 per cent lower than the team’s season average. Windsor was 12-for-32 from long distance, making for a 15-point difference that was pretty much the winning margin.
Charles Hinkle led St. John’s with 27 points, seven rebounds and four assists as he played all but two minutes of the game. Reid and Alex Johnson both added 16 points for the Edge, while Carl English had 14 points.
Shaquille Keith of the Express led all scorers in the game with 29 points.
St. John’s started the game with two bigs — Reid and centre Anthony Stover. The latter was added to the active roster just prior to the road trip. Forward Russell Byrd was deactivated to make room.
The Edge’s road continues Wednesday in Kitchener, Ont., against the KW Titans and finishes up the following night in St. Catharines, Ont., versus the Niagara River Lions.