CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Patience paid off for the Halifax Hurricanes in its 123-116 win over the Island Storm on Sunday at the Eastlink Centre.
Throughout the see-saw National Basketball League of Canada game, Hurricanes head coach Mike Leslie preached the virtue.
His players believed and outscored the Storm 34-25 in the fourth quarter after going into the frame with a two-point deficit.
“We knew they had played late (Saturday) night and there was going to come a time when they would become a little bit soft defensively. We kept saying it’s going to come and at some point it did. Looking up at the clock it’s a five-point lead then it’s eight. We just needed a two-minute window to get some stops and convert at the other end,” said Leslie, a former Storm assistant coach now in his second year with Halifax.
The Storm (8-5) was coming off a 99-94 win over the Riptide in Saint John, N.B., on Saturday - Chris Johnson led the team with 24 points - and had five-game home and three-game overall winning streaks on the line.
Halifax, now 7-6 overall and 2-0 against the Storm this season, had lost two straight games to the Cape Breton Highlanders.
The Storm raced out to a 9-4 first quarter lead, but Halifax returned the favour with a 12-4 run and took a 16-13 edge midway through.
Then the Storm responded, taking a 33-29 lead after the first and setting the pattern for the rest of the game.
The Storm managed a slim 60-57 halftime advantage, took a 91-89 edge into the fourth and, once there, built a tenuous 102-96 lead.
Patient Halifax chipped away, however, stayed close, exploited its chances and wound up leading 118-109 with three minutes remaining and never looked back.
Storm guard Franklin Session, who drained 24 points, said despite the squad’s fourth-quarter foul problems the loss stemmed from costly defensive lapses when the team couldn’t afford them.
“They got a foul down at our end six times in row. Things aren’t going your way when (that happens), but we put our heads down. We didn’t stay the course and (instead) played let’s blame the refs,” said Session, who grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. “You got to keep playing. Offensively we were fine, but I felt defensively we weren’t together as a team.”
Halifax’s Antoine Mason lead all scorers with 32 points, while Billy White chipped in 23 points and 10 rebounds and Ta’Quan Zimmerman added 17 points. Cliff Clinkscales dished out a game-high 11 assists.
Andre Stringer and Du-Vaughn Maxwell went for 28 and 25 points, respectively, for the Storm. Torrence Dyck added 12. Session distributed a team-high seven assists.
Next, the Storm host the Windsor Express on Saturday, Jan. 6. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Link.
A look at Sunday's National Basketball League of Canada game at the Eastlink Centre.
Halifax 123 Island Storm 116
Top Three Scorers
Halifax - Antoine Mason, 32, Billy White 23, Ta’Quan Zimmerman, 17.
Island Storm - Andre Stringer 28, Du’Vaughn Maxwell, 25, Franklin Session, 24.
Top Three Rebounders
Halifax - Billy White, 10, CJ Washington, 8; Rhamel Brown, 6.
Island Storm - Franklin Session, 11, Du’Vaughn Maxwell, 5, Marcus Bell 5.
Halifax - Ta’Quan Zimmerman, 3-of-5.
Island Storm - Chris Johnson, 2-of-3.
Cape Breton - Cliff Clinkscales, 11.
Island Storm - Franklin Session, 7.
Halifax - Antoine Mason, 8-of-11.
Island Storm - Andre Stringer, 11-of-12.
Next Up - The Storm (8-5) host the Windsor Express on Saturday, Jan. 6. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre.