Quarterfinal match-up, 3rd meeting against MUN in a week

Quarterfinal match-up, 3rd meeting against MUN in a week

WOLFVILLE, N.S. - By Frank De Palma - For the third time in less than a week, the Acadia Axemen will take on the Memorial Sea-Hawks in AUS men's basketball, but this time the stakes are a little higher.

The teams traded wins to wind up the regular season in War Memorial Gymnasium last weekend.

Now they will each take their game to the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax on Friday night to kick off the men's portion of AUS championship weekend and it is win or go home.

"We feel good heading into playoffs, we have a group that is hungry and we have been playing better down the stretch of the season," said coach Kevin Duffie.

The Axemen (10-10) finished the regular season in fifth place and handed the 12-8 Sea-Hawks a 97-82 loss on Friday night in the first of a weekend double header. The fourth-place Sea-Hawks regrouped and snatched a 84-74 win on Saturday afternoon to wrap up the regular season for both teams.

Coach Duffie and the Axemen are looking forward to Friday night.

"We like our matchup with Memorial, it will feature the two best big men in the conference as well as two teams that can shoot the ball very well. We anticipate it being a very good game."

Memorial is led by 6-foot-9 Vasilije Curcic, a fifth-year forward who finished the season averaging 20 points and eight rebounds per game.

The Sea-Hawks also feature sharpshooter Daniel Gordon, a fourth-year shooting guard who averaged 15.8 points a game and was the conference's top three-point shooter with 54 made.

The Axemen's Erik Nissen, a fourth-year forward, is coming off a solid year, averaging close to a double-double with 18.1 points a game a 9.7 rebounds along with being the conference's top shot blocker .

Fifth-year forward Kyle Arseneault averaged 16.8 points per game and finished third in three- pointers made with 49.

Two other Acadia starters finished the year averaging double figures _ third-year point guard Ben Miller averaged 13.7 points a game and third-year shooting guard Nick De Palma averaged 12.8 and was the conference's second leading three-point shooter with 53.

Duffie said his Axemen have to be able to deliver a measured performance to be successful.

"Consistency. We have to make sure we are paying attention to details during each possession at both ends of the floor. If we can stay in control of how we are playing we think we will be successful."

The change of venue will not play a big factor, said Duffie.

"Not really. The atmosphere and environment change but that is what these players live for. They are great athletes and they love playing in these games.

"It is important to make sure we are focused on what we are trying to execute on offence and defence. The teams that win are the teams that can execute down the stretch of games and stay in the moment."

Saint Mary's (13-7), which finished in third place, plays sixth-place St. Francis Xavier (9-11) in the 8:30 p.m. game.

The winner of the Axemen-Sea-Hawks game plays first-place Dalhousie (16-4), which earned a bye, in one semi-final game on Saturday night, and the winner of SMU-St.F.X. takes on second-place UNB (14-6), which also earned a bye, in the other semi-final.

 The weekend also marks the final AUS championship for graduating seniors Arseneault, and guards A.J. Simmonds and Alex Thomas.


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