The even-number quarters were the undoing of the St. John’s Edge Tuesday night.
At Mile One Centre, the Edge couldn’t hold onto a fourth-quarter lead and lost 123-109 to the K-W Titans in the first of back-to-back games between the National Basketball League of Canada teams.
St. John’s (19-16) was ahead 92-84 after three quarters and led by as much as 11 points with about eight minutes left in the game, but the Titans (16-19) surged in the late going en route to a win that helped keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Edge were up 33-25 after the opening quarter, but the visitors rallied in the second and led 61-59 at the half. St. John’s regained the lead in the third, but the final quarter saw the Titans outscore their hosts 39-17.
The Kitchener, Ont.-based Titans are in last place in the five-team NBLC Central Division, but are now just three games behind the Edge and defending champion London Lightning, who share the divisional lead.
St. John’s entered the week with an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot with a win Tuesday and another in tonight’s rematch with K-W at Mile One (7 p.m.). Now, the most the Edge can immediately hope for is a split at home; in fact, the Titans have already claimed the three-game, regular-season series between the teams, having won their meeting in Kitchener last month.
Olu Ashaolu topped St. John’s with 29 points Tuesday and also had a team-leading 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Ashaolu was one of a six players to score in double figures for the Edge, who played without big man Glen Davis Tuesday. The rest of the half dozen included Dez Lee (16), Isaiah Tate (15), Jarryn Skeete (12), Murphy Burnatowski (11), and Russell Byrd (10).
But that wasn’t enough to overcome the Titans, led by a game-high 32 points off the bench from Tramar Sutherland. Akeem Ellis added 21 points for the Titans, who got 19 each from Justin Strings and Flen Whitfield.
Point guard Tra-Deon Hollins, making his NBLC debut with the Edge, had four points and a team-high six assists in 15 minutes off the St. John’s bench.