SAINT JOHN – In a tale of two halfs, the Saint John Riptide outscored the Moncton Magic by 27 points in the final two quarters to down their provincial rivals 90-83 in National Basketball League of Canada action Wednesday at Harbour Station.
Saint John, which trailed by as many as 23 points, came storming back thanks to a stifling defence that led to transition baskets.
“We came out with a heightened sense of urgency to start the third quarter,” veteran guard Jeremiah Mordi said post-game. “We knew that we underachieved in the first half so we were determined to come out and show how good we are and really lock down on defence.”
Frank Bartley led the way with 24 points for the ‘Tide. Brent Arrington added 23 points, five rebounds and three assists.
“Brent was very good for us tonight and I’m really happy for him because he’s been really working hard on his game,” head coach Nelson Terroba said. “I also thought Bryce (Washington) was terrific in the second half getting us extra possession and playing tough defence. That was key.”
Playing in only his second game as an injury replacement for centre Randy Phillips, Washington scored 10 points. Washington was a monster on the boards, grabbing 18 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass.
Kemy Osse continued his strong play off the bench, scoring 10 points. T.J. Maston added 10 points and seven rebounds for the ‘Tide, who improved to 8-16.
Billy White led Moncton with 28 points. All but six came in the first half. Corey Allmond, who began his NBLC career in Saint John, added 11 points for the Magic, who lead the Atlantic Division with a 16-8 record.
The Riptide fought their way back into the game in the third quarter, trailing 66-64 at the close of the frame in a contest that had all the markings of a blowout after two periods.
Saint John sliced a 20-point halftime deficit to nine points, 53-44, thanks to a 17-6 run in the opening four and a half minutes of the quarter. By the 5:30 mark they had tied it at 53-53 courtesy of a Bartley three-pointer.
Moncton led 47-27 heading into the second half thanks to the White’s exploits. The Magic forward, who was averaging 16.7 points per game going into Wednesday’s tilt, scored 22 points in the first half on 9-10 shooting, including going 3-3 from beyond the three-point arc.
“Coach was really calm and analytical at half, telling us what was hurting us and what was helping us and we just made those adjustments,” Mordi said.
“He wanted us to focus on Billy because he really hurt us in the first half. He wanted us to shrink on him get a lot of bodies clogging things up.”
Saint John, which trailed 22-15 after the first quarter, shot 44 per cent from the field, including going 8-21 from three-point land.
They held the Magic to 38 per cent from the field. Moncton connected on 8-29 three-point tries.
The ‘Tide are back in action Friday when they host the Island Storm in a 7 p.m. tip-off at Harbour Station. Saint John dropped a 115-111 decision to the Storm in Charlottetown on Sunday afternoon.
“We just want to stay locked in,” Mordi said. “We really feel like we let that last one drop in their place, so now we’re very focused and hungry for this one. We’re really looking forward to it.”