The St. Thomas University basketball teams hosted their annual Francis Farrington Memorial Games on Jan. 19 against Mount Allison University. The women’s team won 54-50, while the men’s team fell short in overtime 90-88.
The women’s game was a back-and-forth affair, as the Mounties led by just one point at half, 29-28.
“Both teams defended with a lot of heart,” said women’s head coach Fred Connors.
“We hit some big shots at big times and hit key free throws.”
The Tommies made their mark in the third quarter, giving themselves a four point lead to work with during the final 10 minutes of play. Rookie guard Vanessa Soffee came out strong in the third quarter, scoring seven points of her game high of 18 points. She also came out big on the defensive side of the floor, recording three steals for the game.
The final quarter featured more defence, as scoring points was nothing short of difficult. Bridget Frazee hit a clutch three extending the Tommies lead to six with a minute and a half left in play. Soffee later sealed the deal with free throws, giving the Tommies the victory.
“We’re used to having dramatic games with these guys,” said Connors.
“As a younger team we’re trying to be the aggressors. When a team comes back and punches back you got to be ready for that. I thought we responded really well.”
The men’s game was a showdown, as the Tommies got a quick lead of 43-35 after the first half which saw emotions flying high from the fans and players.
“I think our guys need to have amazing credit,” said head coach Scott MacLeod.
“Every game now in this season we’ve just gotten better and better … they’re just knocking on the door now.”
The Tommies struggled in the third, as their big lead vanished suddenly. The final quarter started with a two-point lead. Emotions were high, as multiple technical fouls were handed out during the game. But that didn’t stop co-captains Travis Valanne and Arthur Reece from showing their leadership, combining for 17 of the team’s 27 points. The Tommies had a chance at a buzzer beater, giving the ball to Valanne in the corner for a three-pointer. Valanne missed, sending the game into overtime.
Overtime was just as aggressive as the previous four quarters but the Mounties came away with the win off of a layup with just seconds left, followed by a desperate three-point attempt from Almin Dervisevic that was be short.
Valanne led the Tommies in scoring with 22 points, knocking down six three-pointers. Dervisevic posted a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
“We made a statement for sure,” MacLeod said.
“These guys are not going to give up. Ever. They’re a team that just digs down. We have guys barely walking now … it’s incredible.”