Riptide play defending NBL champs tough
SAINT JOHN – The Saint John Riptide played the defending National Basketball League of Canada champions tough but fell 109-95 to the London Lightning Thursday night at Harbour Station.
Saint John got within eight at 103-95 on a Daniel Dingle three-pointer with two minutes left but got no closer.
“I definitely felt like we did a better job of coming together as a team and battling,” Riptide forward Chris Early, who led Saint John with 25 points and 10 rebounds, said post game.
“We had a lot of chances to pack it in but we didn’t. Instead, we stayed together and kept fighting.”
Dingle scored 22 points for Saint John while Brent Arrington and Frank Bartley each contributed 11.
Xavier Moon topped the Lightning with 25 points. Kirk Williams Jr., scored 19.
With the loss Saint John falls to 0-5 while London improves to 4-1.
The ‘Tide trailed 78-65 after three quarters, as head coach Nelson Terroba went to a small lineup for much of the period, playing forwards Dingle and Early, both 6-foot-7, with three guards, chiefly Jeremiah Mordi, Arrington and Bartley.
“Necessity is the mother of invention. We had some foul trouble so we went to it,” Terroba said after the game. “It was good for us so we’ll watch the video and see how it looked.”
The Lightning led 49-39 at the half on 44 per cent shooting, including 6-15 from three-point range. Moon led the way with 12 points for London.
The Riptide shot 36 per cent from the field, connecting on 4-16 three-point attempts. Early and Dingle each score nine to pace Saint John.
The game was tied at 21-21 after a first quarter, which saw five lead changes and neither team able to gain more than a four-point advantage.
Terroba said his squad did a much better job, coming off a 23-point loss to the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans Wednesday, with shot selection and ball movement along with much improved transition defence.
“We were way more committed on transition defence and it showed,” Terroba said. “Tonight it was a loss, we got beat but we didn’t beat ourselves.”
The Riptide will look to the road to get into the win column. They begin a stretch of five games away from Harbour Station next Thursday against the expansion Sudbury 5. Two days later the ‘Tide will be in London for a rematch with the Lightning. They’ll then return to the Maritimes for games against the Moncton Magic, Dec. 16, Cape Breton Highlanders, Dec. 23, and Island Storm, Dec. 26.
The Riptide’s next home game is Dec. 27 when they’ll face the Halifax Hurricanes in a 7 p.m. start at Harbour Station.