If National Basketball League of Canada games were 36 minutes long, the St. John’s Edge just might be leading the Moncton Magic in the championship final.
But NBL Canada games consist of four 12-minute quarters, and on Monday night at Mile One Centre, it was once again that final frame that proved to be the Edge’s undoing.
Before a crowd of nearly 4,000 fans, St. John’s carried a three-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Magic quickly erased that deficit with a 13-0 run en route to a 103-93 win that puts Moncton up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series and gives the Magic a chance to sweep to a title with a victory Thursday night at Mile One.
It was the second straight game that saw St. John’s have a lead quickly evaporate in the final quarter; it had also happened Saturday night in Moncton, where the Edge led by six points through 36 minutes, but couldn’t stay in front.
In both cases, St. John’s ran out of gas and the reason seems obvious; the Edge have nothing in the way of a reserve tank.
In Game 2, St. John’s started with nine players — three fewer than the norm — then lost playoff leading scorer Glen Davis to an ankle injury early in that decisive fourth quarter.
On Monday, they again started with nine players; Davis was out and guard Junior Cadougan had been reactivated from the injured reserve list. However, while centre Satnam Singh was in the lineup, he too has been dealing with an injury and he didn’t play a single minute in Game 3.
And while the team was glad to have Cadougan back, the veteran Canadian, who is far from 100 per cent, was on a time limit and was restricted to 15 minutes of action.
That left St. John’s with an effective bench of two men, meaning there was a constant rotation of players as coach Steve Marcus looked to keep his team as fresh as possible.
The plan worked for three quarters and then the needle hit ‘E.’
The Edge’s Carl English led all scorers with 22 points in the game, but six of the 10 players used by Moncton hit in double figures, led by Trey Kell and his 20 points.
Russell Byrd and Jarryn Skeete each had 14 points for St. John’s, with the majority of Skeete’s output coming during a third-quarter hot streak when the St. John’s guard hit three straight three-pointers, helping the home side move in front.
It was one of 16 lead changes in the game, but after the Magic went on its scoring run to start the fourth, there would be no more.
Corey Allmond put up 18 points for Moncton, while Billy White contributed 16 to the winning cause.
Kell led all players with 11 boards as the Magic outrebounded the Edge 41-26, evidence of the lack of height in the St. John’s lineup. In fact, 6-6 Murphy Burnatowski was the starting centre for the home team.
The Edge are hoping that will change in a do-or-die game on Thursday. Marcus has said he expects Davis will be able to play in Game 4. Right now, that’s an expectation that is tinged by some desperate hope.