His stats line were a very pedestrian five points, three rebounds and three assists Sunday afternoon and he hadn’t made a shot from the field in regulation, but in the end, it was little Maurice Jones coming up with the biggest play of the day for the St. John’s Edge (11-6).
In Saint John, N.B., the Edge — who were closing out a six-game NBL Canada road trip — and the homestanding Riptide were in a see-saw battle in double overtime Sunday afternoon at Harbour Station when the Edge’s 5-foot-7 all-star guard went to work.
Leading 102-101 with just over 30 seconds remaining in the second extra session, the Riptide’s Frank Bartley gobbled up a defensive rebound and led a Saint John fast break.
Jones, the Saginaw, Mich., native and former NBL Canada rookie of the year, got on his horse and chased down Bartley, stripping the Riptide all-star of the ball.
Jones pushed the ball upcourt and dished off to Jared Nickens, who calmly nailed a three-pointer for a 105-101 lead.
Game over. That turned out to be the final score
“He’s an absolute gamer,” Edge coach Doug Plumb said of Jones, who is other averaging 15.9 points per game this season. “There’s no other way to describe him. He’s got such a high motor, and he can log so many minutes.”
The victory was the Edge’s fourth straight win, fifth of the Maritimes road trip and 10th in their last 11 outings.
“He’s an absolute gamer. There’s no other way to describe him. He’s got such a high motor, and he can log so many minutes.”
Edge head coach Doug Plumb on guard Maurice Jones
The only fly in the ointment was a 102-95 setback to the Halifax Hurricanes last Sunday, and that, said Plumb, came after the team pulled into Halifax at 2 in the morning following a Saturday night win over the Magic on Moncton.
“We had guys getting treatment until 3:30 in the morning, and then we played at 2 p.m.,” Plumb said. “And we almost won that one as well. We’ve got a good thing going here.”
St. John’s, which started the season 1-5, is now 11-6, tops in the Central Division and closing in on the Magic for top spot in the league.
Plumb described Sunday’s win as a “gutty effort,” one in which the Edge players displayed “incredible resolve.”
Part of the reason for the high praise is the fact the team won five of six on the road in a span of nine days, with travel to a different Atlantic Canadian city in between.
For Sunday’s game, the Edge rolled into Saint John three-and-a-half hours prior to tipoff after leaving Charlottetown, P.E.I., where they posted a 107-98 win Friday night.
A scarcity of hotel rooms in the New Brunswick city kept the St. John’s players on P.E.I.
“The whole team is exhausted,” Plumb said. “The tank was pretty empty at the final buzzer.”
Fatigue might have been the cause for the Edge’s letdown late in the fourth quarter, allowing the Riptide to force OT. St. John’s coughed up an 11-point lead in the final 5:41 of regulation time, during which Junior Cadougan, with a free throw, scored the only point for the Edge.
“Our offence,” Plumb said, “was stagnant because we were extremely tired, playing a little bit of hero ball there towards the end, trying to will our way to a win.
“It got a little ugly, but we’ll take the win, especially at the end of this road trip.
“And the things is, I don’t even think we’ve started clicking on all cylinders yet because we haven’t even had practice time. We’re figuring things out on the fly.”
The Edge will have plenty of time to practice now. They have 12 days off before they play again, when the London Lightning drop in to Mile One Centre Jan. 19-20 for a two-game set.
For a second straight game, Glen Davis led the Edge with 24 points Sunday.
Nickens scored 23 and Lee netted 19. Cadougan scored 13 and Obinna Oleka sank 10 to go with 13 rebounds.
Lee (10 rebounds) and Cadougan (10 assists) joined Oleka with double-doubles.
Bartley had a game-high 29 points for the Riptide.