Fredericton, New Brunswick—The UMFK men’s basketball team got the season started off with a 2-1 weekend in Fredericton at the Ken Gould Invitational tournament. The Bengals got the season off on the winning track by winning on both Friday (Mt. Allison) and Saturday (St. Thomas University), but losing a close one today to King’s College.
On Friday afternoon, the Bengals started slow but finishing the first half very strong to take a 12 point lead into the break. Playing together for the first time this season, there were some missed layups and missed opportunities in the first quarter, but the Bengal defense turned the pressure up and the offense started to click. The Bengals only allowed 24 points in the first half.
UMFK hit 9 threes, 3 by freshman Jake Rioux in his Bengals debut. He finished with 11 points and was one of 3 players in double figures, led by Sophomore Joe McCloskey’s 21. Another newcomer, Junior Marquis Glenn chipped in with 12 and Senior Jorge Matesanz and Junior Qaadir Ali had 9 apiece. Every Bengal in uniform played and 11 of 12 guys got on the score sheet.
Saturday evening’s game was the most exciting off all as host St. Thomas University put up a dog fight in a game that went wire to wire, had 9 lead changes and 10 ties. STU looked to be in firm control as Will Barber hit a shot with 4:25 left to his team a 10 point lead, 45-35. The Bengals however closed the quarter on a 6-1 run to get within 5. STU continued to lead until a Kostas Koustas layup after a steal tied the game up at 51 with 4:20 remaining. With the Bengals gassed, UMFK had to turn to the bench to buy some time for McCloskey and Ali. Senior Jeremy Bishop came in and tipped a missed 2 pt. shot in to give UMFK its first lead since early in the 3rd quarter. Barber answered to put STU back up 1, 55-54, but then Sophomore David Martinez hit a huge 3 to give the Bengals the lead for good. The game continued to go back and forth until Qaadir Ali hit two free throws with 10 seconds left to put the Bengals up 3. Barber missed a last second three as UMFK picked up the win.
McCloskey once again led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds. It was well balanced after that as Kostas Koustas, David Martinez and Jorge Matesanz all had 6 points and Mauro Vicic, Qaadir Ali, and Jake Rioux had 5 each. Ali also had 5 steals and Koustas had 6 rebounds.
Today’s game against King’s College was unlike the others as the Bengals, who prided themselves on defense the first two games, gave up 52 first half points, made a furious comeback, only to come up short in the end. The Blue Devils jumped out to an early 12-0 lead, three and a half minutes in, which forced a UMFK timeout. The Bengals finally started to play but couldn’t stop Kings College as they led 29-18 after one. It only went down from there as the Blue Devils of Halifax pushed the lead to 22 at the half, 52-30.
That’s when the furious comeback started just after halftime as the Bengals opened the half on a 7-0 run, as Vicic hit a 3, Marquis Glenn a jumper and Ali stole a pass and finished on the other end, drawing a King’s College timeout to cut the lead to 52-37. King’s College maintained that lead until Marquis Glenn ended the half with a 6-0 by himself and cut the lead to 65-57. The Bengals kept chipping away and eventually tied the game on Vicic’s fifth 3 of the half at 72. King’s College hit a 3 on the next possession and they maintained the lead a Marquis Glenn steal led to a Qaadir Ali basket that gave the Bengals their first lead of the game 84-83. It was then that King’s College Thomas Watson took the game over and scored the next eight points to firmly put the Blue Devils in the lead 91-84.
UMFK was balanced again as Mauro Vicic came alive in the 2nd half and scored all 21, hitting six 3 pointers. Glenn was outstanding in the half as well and finished with 20 points, 4 steals, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. McCloskey had another double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Joe McCloskey was named Ken Gould tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds in the three games. Marquis Glenn was also named to the all-tournament team for his outstanding performance all tournament long.
The Bengals will be back in action on Saturday when they host Dalhousie in a women/men doubleheader on Saturday at 6:00 and 8:00 pm.