Island team wins close one over Halifax to take a 2-1 lead in semifinal series
© Photo special to the Guardian by Scott Kirkpatrick/stkPhoto.com
Halifax Rainmen forward Olumuyiwa Famutimi drives against the Island Storm’s Casey Love during NBL of Canada playoff action Thursday night at the Halifax Metro Centre.
By Andrew Rankin
HALIFAX — In the end, the Island Storm proved too much on this night.
But not by much.
Despite a valiant fourth quarter push, the Halifax Rainmen ultimately couldn’t recover from a first half breakdown, en route to a 106-103 defeat at the hands of the Storm on Thursday night before 2,800 fans at the Metro Centre.
The Island now takes a 2-1 lead in the best-of seven semifinal series in the NBL of Canada.
Entering the second half down 10 points, the Rainmen slowly grinding down the visitors until Chris Matthews’ jumper gave the home squad a one-point lead with just under two minutes left in regulation time.
But like all night long, the Storm responded, and Steve Tchiengang’s two clutch free throws put the contest on ice with six seconds left in the contest.
“It’s tough,” said Chris Williams, who led the Rainmen with 26 points. “We weren’t concentrating. It showed when we went down 10 at halftime and when we took the lead.
“Against a team like P.E.I. you have to maintain that concentration. You have a let down and you lose by three points, like we did tonight.”
It was a promising start for the Rainmen, who got out to a 10-point first quarter lead.
But the Storm took full advantage of Halifax’s early defensive breakdowns and poor offensive execution.
“They were hitting shots from everywhere late in the game and we just battled back, kept playing tough,” said Storm guard Nick Okorie, who collected a team high 20 points. “Whenever they went on a run we kept fighting back. We just kept making runs.”
For Rainmen forward Olumuyiwa Famutimi, the loss came down to poor execution and lack of effort at the defensive end.
“It was the little things that got us: not boxing, turnovers,” he said. “We just have to want it. P.E.I. got the best of us today.”
But they’ll be ready, he said come Sunday when both team’s face off in Game 4 at the Metro Centre.
So, too will the Storm.
“They have a hostile environment here, but we like that,” said Okorie.