The Island Storm was unable to cash in from the charity stripe Sunday and it cost them.
The Storm went 24-for-39 (62 per cent) at the free-throw line in a 113-103 loss to the Moncton Miracles in National Basketball League of Canada play at the Eastlink Centre.
“We made more free throws than Moncton attempted and we missed 15,” Storm head coach Joe Salerno said. “To lose by 10, when you have that kind of opportunity, it’s really frustrating.”
The Storm missed 10 of their 21 free throws in the first half. Rashad Whack went 2-for-6 from the line in the first half and 3-for-8 for the game.
“It’s tough,” the guard said. “Missing easy shots like that gets to you mentally but my teammates were staying with me. . .
“As a leader, I have to have to step up and make my free throws.”
Forward Brent Jennings said free throws have been an issue this season and is one of the biggest reasons the team’s record is below .500.
“It’s all about confidence,” said Jennings, who was 4-for-6 from the line. “Zoning out and stepping up to the line and making a free throw.”
Tirrell Baines did his job at the line, going 10-for-11, and had a team-high 22 points.
The Miracles held quarter leads of 35-29, 59-52 and 83-74.
The Storm looked out of sync for parts of Sunday’s game, but the game was there to be won in the fourth quarter and the home side couldn’t put a run together.
“When we play 48 minutes as a team, defensively and offensively, the sky’s the limit for us,” Jennings said. “If we only play part of the game, you see what the results are.”
Salerno called the team Jekyll and Hyde, especially during the last month and a half of the season.
He said the team talked repeatedly heading into Sunday about Moncton’s ability to score in transition. They knew it was coming and couldn’t stop it.
“It was a lack of execution,” Salerno said.
It was a chippy affair with both teams not happy with the officiating.
Salerno said his players let that get to them and they lost focus.
“If we’re going to struggle with mental toughness in this game here. . . we’re really going to struggle in the playoffs,” he said when the intensity increases.
Miracles centre Thomas Granado was public enemy No. 1 for the Storm on Sunday.
Jennings said Granado threw him to the floor early in the third quarter. He was in the referee’s ear on the pursuing possession and eventual received a technical foul.
“It gets to a point where (if the officials) don’t say anything, than you feel like you kind of have to say something yourself,” he said.
Granado and Brian Addison exchanged words and it looked like the game could get out of control quickly. Both players received technical and the game resumed.
“Tom is an instigator. He plays hard. He accepts his role. He certainly got under some guys’ skin tonight,” Salerno said. “I think it’s unfortunate that the officials in this league don't kind of stop that earlier in games before it boils over to a point.”
A look at Sunday’s National Basketball League of Canada game between the Island Storm and Moncton Miracles at the Eastlink Centre:
Miracles – 113.
Storm – 103.
Miracles – Dexter Strickland 23, Tydran Beaty 18, Brandan Kearney 17, Thomas Granado 17 and James Justice 17.
Storm – Tirrell Baines 22, Brent Jennings 15, Malcolm Grant 14 and Rashad Whack 14.
Miracles – Granado 18.
Storm – Chad Posthumus 7, Tirrell Baines 7 and Brent Jennings 7.
Miracles – Brandan Kearney 8.
Storm – Terry Thomas 5.
Miracles – 13-15.
Storm – 10-17.
Upcoming games – The Storm plays a home and home with the division-leading Halifax Hurricanes Sunday in Halifax and Monday at 2 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre.