They had plenty of persistence, but Friday night in southern New Brunswick, there was no pay-off for St. John’s Edge.
The Edge wrapped upt their five-game season-opening road trip with a 118-114 loss to the Saint John Riptide in a game in which St. John’s never led, but which still came down to the closing seconds.
Carl English had a game-high 32 points for St. John’s (3-2), which hung in all night long, falling behind by double digits several times only to climb back close to the Riptide.
But they couldn’t quitef ind a way to get even in what was their fifth games in six nights in a National Basketball League of Canada season that has begun at a breakneck pace for the Edge.
The closest St. John’s came was in the waning moments of the contest when a Charles Hinkle jump shot brought the score to within two points. But with the visitors purposely fouling in an attempt make the most of the remaining time, diminutive Saint John guard Horace Wormley made four consecutive free throws to give the Riptide their second win in as many nights — they had defeated the Cape Breton Highlanders in Saint John’s season-opener on Thursday.
In fact, free throws proved to be — statistically at least — the difference in this one.
The Edge had a good night shooting from the floor, hitting on over 50 per cent of their shots overall and doing even better (54.5 per cent) on three-pointers, eclipsing the home side in both categories. They also were 24-of-26 on free throws, giving them almost the same success rate as Saint John. However, the Riptide got to charity stripe 14 more times than their opponents, getting 38 points out of those visits.
Edge pluck and some nifty shooting almost made up for that disparity, with English looking particularly sharp after having been given a night off for rest purposes Wednesday, when St. John’s had downed the Moncton Magic. The 36-year-old guard from Patrick’s Cove was 11-for-17 overall, including three-for-three on treys, while making all seven of his free throws.
Hinkle added 18 points for St. John’s, while Jarion Henry had 17, Rashaun Broadus contributed 14 and Alex Johnson chipped in with 13 as all five St. John’s starters reached double figures.
Hinkle had eight of the Edge’s 39 rebounds, while Henry and Broads both dished out seven assists.
Former NBL Canada MVP Gabe Freeman topped the Riptide with 30 points. Malcolm Miller had 23 and the 5-6 Wormley finished with 20 for Saint John.
The Edge return to St. John’s today where they will prepare for their home openers next Friday and Saturday at Mile One Centre against the Niagara River Lions.