Jared Nickens scored 22 points as part of big contribution from a small contingent of bench players and the St. John’s Edge registered their second win in as many days by downing the Cape Breton Highlanders 105-92 at Mile One Centre Monday night.
The result, which came in the only game on Monday’s National Basketball League of Canada schedule, allowed the Edge (19-15) to remain alone in first place in the NBLC’s Central Division ahead of the defending champion London Lightning and Sudbury Five, both with 18-16 records.
With Obinna Oleka no longer on the St. John’s roster, and Canadians Olu Ashaolu and Shaquille Keith not playing Monday night, the Edge had just four bench players available, but that quartet delivered a total of 44 points. That included 16 in the fourth quarter as the home side lengthened a lead that had stood at just one point with 12 minutes left in the game.
Nickens was particularly hot, shooting nine-for-12, including six-for-nine on three-pointers.
In just his second game with St. John’s, and his first as a starter, Murphy Burnatowski had 19 points, while Desmond Lee recorded a double-double (15 points, 14 rebounds) and Junior Cadougan had a dozen assists for the Edge (19-15), who don’t play again until March 12 when they resume what will be an eight-game homestand to close out the regular season.
Devin Sweetney scored a game-high 34 points for Cape Breton (16-18), which lost all four games of its season series with St. John’s, including a 105-84 setback Sunday at Mile One as the Edge ended a four-game losing streak.
The Edge could announce a roster addition today to replace Oleka, who was the league's leading rebounder. No word yet on if Oleka's departure is because he's been released, due to an injury or because he's signed with a team in another league. If it's either of the latter two, St. John's can sign a designated player as a replacement. Otherwise, they could use an injury-designated spot that's been available ever since star guard Carl English was sidelined by surgery to repair damged ligaments in his thumb.