Memorial Sea-Hawks coach Mark English was probably breathing a huge sigh of relief Saturday afternoon at the Field House with the return of star guard Sydney Stewart, who turned on a 21-pont, eight-rebound performance in the Sea-Hawks’ final home game of the 2017-18 regular season.
That it came in a 77-62 win over Saint Mary’s University was even more satisfying for English as the Huskies and Sea-Hawks are set to meet in the first round of the AUS playoffs next weekend in Halifax.
And that’s not the only Memorial-Saint Mary’s conference quarter-final matchup. Those two teams will also play next Friday in the men’s playoffs, also set for Halifax.
Stewart, a fourth-year guard from Sarnia, Ont., made her return to the Sea-Hawks’ lineup on the weekend after missing six games to an ankle injury she suffered in mid-January.
The Huskies won the series-opener Friday night 57-53.
MUN finished the season in fifth place with an 11-9 record for 30 points. The Huskies were also 11-9, but totaled 32 points for fourth spot. That’s because some AUS games are worth four points based on the number of times teams play each other.
MUN and Saint Mary’s play 1:30 p.m. Friday (NL time) in the quarters at Scotiabank Centre.
In the other quarter-final, third-place UPEI (also 11-9, but totaling 34 points) plays sixth-place University of New Brunswick (10-10).
The Acadia Axewomen, who were 18-2, and 13-7 Cape Breton University received byes to Saturday’s semifinals.
Haille Nickerson backed up Stewart on Saturday with 14 points. Lindsay Taylor, playing her final game as a Sea-Hawk at Memorial, netted 12 points. Taylor, who finished her Sea-Hawks’ career second on the all-time three-point scoring list, was successful on a pair of treys in five attempts. Brooklyn Wright chipped in with 10 points.
Friday night, the Sea-Hawks lost 57-53. Stewart scored 13 points and Wright had 12.
Stewart finished fifth in AUS scoring with 16.3 points per game. Wright was seventh with 14.9 per game.
The Sea-Hawks were swept by the Huskies over the weekend, which isn’t good news for Memorial heading into Friday’s quarter-finals.
Neither is the fact Memorial has lost four game in a row, and nine of its last 10 starts.
The Sea-Hawks managed a playoff berth despite a 5-15 record. That’s because UPEI, at 3-17, and 2-18 Cape Breton had worse records.
Third-place Saint Mary’s was 14-6.
Reigning champion Dalhousie and UNB were both 16-4, but the Tigers finished eight points ahead of the Varsity Reds based on more four-point victories. Those teams have byes to Saturday’s semifinals.
The MUN-Saint Mary’s game goes 9 p.m. Friday (NL time) in Halifax. In the other quarter-final, fourth-place Acadia (15-5) and fifth place St. Francis Xavier (9-11) play 7 p.m. (NL time) Friday.
The weekend series closed the careers of Memorial star guards Daniel Gordon and Davion Parnsalu on the Field House floor.
Gordon, from North York, Ont., finished fourth in conference scoring this season with 18.9 points per game. Parnsalu, who hails from Ajax, Ont., was 15th in the AUS with 12.6 per game. He was fifth in the conference in assists, with 3.6 a game.
Gordon scored 18 points and Parnsalu had nine Saturday in a 69-53 loss, a game in which star Nathan Barker sat out compliments of a flu bug. Greg Manuel scored 13 points.
Friday night, Gordon exploded for 35 points, but it wasn’t enough as Memorial lost 89-74. Barker scored 15.
U SPORTS SWIMMING
Memorial sent five swimmers to the U Sports Canadian swimming championship held over the weekend in Toronto.
The best finishes came in the 50-metre breaststroke when Jasmine Foran placed seventh and Veronica Reid eighth in the A final.
Foran and Reid made the B final in the 100m breaststroke, placing 11th and 13th respectively.
Foran made the C final in the 200m breaststroke, and Sam Leawood made the C final in the 100m freestyle.
The women’s 400m medley relay team of Foran, the AUS female rookie of the year, Reid, Alison Somers and Laura Pittman was 16th of 20 teams.
U SPORTS WRESTLING
At Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Dennis Sutton was the only Memorial University athlete competing in the U Sports Canadian wrestling championship, where he placed fifth in the 100 kilo weight class.
Sutton was 2-2 on the mat in the Soo, and one of his wins came against the eventual bronze medalist from Brock University (St. Catharines, Ont.).
AUS TRACK AND FIELD
The Memorial Sea-Hawks track and field team won seven medals at the Atlantic University Sport indoor track and field championship at the University of Moncton.
Asha Kennedy won a silver medal in the women’s high jump. Bronze medals went to Niamh Molloy in women’s pole vault, Nicole Chan in triple jump, Tyler Forsey in the 60 metres, Paul Anderson in the high jump and Ben Krilow in the pole vault. The women’s 4 x 200m relay team of Chan, Stacey Leawood, Jennifer Boland and Mykenzi Harding also won bronze.
Memorial women’s team had a particularly strong meet, placing third of eight teams in Moncton. The Sea-Hawks’ men’s squad was sixth.