The Island Storm weathered a sluggish second half and, despite squandering a 22-point lead, hung on for a 106-98 win over the Halifax Rainmen on Thursday at Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.
The Storm led 52-30 at halftime in the National Basketball League of Canada Boxing Day special until a furious, but patient, Rainmen squad fought back and tied the game twice in the fourth.
But Storm guard Adrian Moss rebounded his own miss and dropped an assist to Antonio Ballard, whose layup with 49 seconds left in regulation gave the Storm an edge it wouldn’t surrender.
Moss said the Rainmen pressed much more in the second half and took advantage of the slow-moving Storm and Halifax’s scrambling, gambling style forced several turnovers that played havoc with the game plan.
“I think it was energy, we came out with a lack of energy,” said Moss, who drained 16 points for the Storm. “We struggled with the press and it put us in bad situations. Give credit to them, they battled hard. Luckily, we got it together.”
The Island squad goes to 10-6, good for first in the Atlantic Division, while Halifax drops to 3-14. Halifax won the last meeting in Halifax 84-82 after erasing a 12-point halftime deficit.
On Thursday, the Storm got off to a 9-4 lead six minutes into the first quarter and ended with 24-12 edge. More solid play in the second frame resulted in a 22-point halftime lead.
Then the wheels came off as the Rainmen played a 37-27 trump card in the third period to close the gap to 79-67 at the frame’s end.
More of the same hot shooting in the fourth brought Halifax to a 79-79 tie, thanks to Oludamilola Sapara, four minutes into the fourth and a 94-94 score, courtesy of David Lawrence, seven minutes later.
But Moss’s rebound and dish to Ballard with under a minute left in the game sealed things as the Rainmen then fouled to stop the clock and the Storm responded by shooting 8-for-12 from the free-throw line in the final 39 seconds.
“That’s how basketball is in general,” said Moss about the Rainmen comeback. “Great teams don’t (allow comebacks) as much. When you get a team down, you keep them down. We should have learned our lesson the last game.”
Ballard finished with 20 points and led all rebounders with 14.
Shooting guard Semaj Inge led all scorers with 25 points, including 16-of-18 from the free throw line.
Jujuan Cooley paced the Rainmen with 15 points while Olumuyima Famutimi had 14. George Goode chipped in 13 points and Tim Parham added 12.
Next up, the Storm face the Moncton Miracles (2-14) today and Saturday in Moncton, N.B. Game times are 7 p.m.
A look at Thursday's National Basketball League of Canada game at Eastlink Centre:
The Outcome — Island Storm 106 Halifax 98
Top Three Scorers — Halifax: Jujuan Cooley, 15, Olumuyima Famutimi, 14, George Goode, 13; Island Storm: Semaj Inge, 25, Antonio Ballard, 20, Adrian Moss, 16.
Top Three Rebounders — Halifax: Jason Williams, 11, Olumuyima Famutimi 9, Tim Parhum, 9; Island Storm: Antonio Ballard, 14, Amani Daanish, 6, Al Stewart, 4.
Three-Point Shooter — Halifax: Anthony Moddy, 3-for-4; Island Storm: Semaj Inge, 1-for-1.
Most Assists — Halifax: Jason Williams, 7; Island Storm: Al Stewart, 5.
Free Throws — Halifax: Jujuan Cooley, 2-for-2; Island Storm: Semaj Inge, 16-of-18.
By the numbers
Field Goal Shooting — Halifax: 49 per cent, 41-of-83; Island Storm: 43 per cent, 32-of-75.
Three-Point Shooting — Halifax: 40 per cent, 10-of-25; Island Storm: 17 per cent, 2-of-12.
Free Throw Shooting — Halifax: 46 per cent, 6-of-13; Island Storm: 70 per cent, 40-of-57.
Turnovers — Halifax: 22; Island Storm: 13.
Bench Scoring — Halifax: 46; Island Storm: 41.
Steals — Halifax: 6; Storm: 14.
50-50 Draw — $540.
Next five games
Island Storm at Moncton Miracles, 7 p.m.
Storm at Moncton Miracles, 7 p.m.
Halifax Rainmen at Storm, 7 p.m.
Storm at Saint John Mill Rats, 7 p.m.
Storm at Moncton Miracles, 2 p.m.