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AUS Gameday; Huskies Travel to Wolfville for Critical Games vs Acadia

Owen Klassen’s Axemen are in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth as the AUS regular season winds down.

by Bill McLean
Saint Mary’s (8-10, 18 pts) at Acadia (9-8, 17 pts)

Both teams have clinched playoff spots and are essentially battling for fifth or sixth place. If the season ended today the Huskies would have to play the X-Women in the AUS quarter finals. while Acadia would have to play the host team Memorial, so it’s essentially pick your poison.

Pundits and fans still are not sure if these teams have underachieved or if they just are not as good as the top four. Certainly on paper they each have considerable assets. The Huskies feature the nation’s leading scorer in Justine Colley and a solid starting lineup consisting of Susanne Canvin and Robbi Daley. Meanwhile the Axewomen have the Duinker sisters, Abby and Emma leading the way along with outstanding rookies in Kristy Moore and Ariel Smith. Throw in the plucky point guard Stephanie Chapman, who literally stole a victory away from Dalhousie last month, and the Axewomen seem to have the pieces for a championship run.

The problem for both teams has been a considerable lack of depth off the bench, and a lack of quickness on the perimeter. They match up very well against each other, but against teams like X, UNB, and CBU which feature quick and athletic guards, both teams struggle to defend.

Both teams are very capable of making an impact at AUS playoffs. The Axewomen are the hotter team coming in, having gone 8-4 in their last 12 games. The Huskies have only played three games this month due to the Canada Games taking over the Tower and had lost four of five before beating the Tigers by 20 last week.

The Huskies beat Acadia in the season opener at the Tower 92-86, but Acadia has won the last two meetings, 71-50 in Wolfville and 68-65 back at Saint Mary’s.

Saint Mary’s (6-12, 18 pts) at Acadia (5-12, 14 pts)

One look at the standings and you would think this would be a desperate game for the Axemen considering they trail the Huskies and UPEI by four points for the last playoff spot.

Upon closer examination it’s the Huskies that could really use a win if they are to make the AUS playoffs. After tonight, Acadia has a weekend set in Wolfville versus the last place Memorial Seahawks with eight points in the standings up for grabs. Assuming (and certainly it’s not a safe assumption considering the play of the Axemen in 2011) that Acadia gets those eight points on the final weekend, you can basically look at the bottom half of the standings like this before tonight’s game;

4. Acadia 22 pts Games remaining: vs. SMU (2)
5. UNB 20 pts Games remaining: at CBU (4) at X (4)
6. SMU 18 pts Games remaining: at Acadia (2) at Dal (2)
7. UPEI 18 pts Games remaining: at CBU (4) at X (4)

Hard to believe isn’t it? As bad as Acadia has been they are in the driver’s seat for the #4 seed at AUS playoffs.

The Huskies hold the tiebreaker with UPEI, so if both teams finish with 18 points, SMU would qualify as the sixth seed and the Panthers would be out. Essentially, barring a major upset by Memorial over the weekend, the Panthers have to go in to Antigonish or Sydney and come out with a win.

No easy task.

Tonight’s game features the nation’s leading scorer Joey Haywood versus arguably the best inside/outside player in the conference, Acadia’s Owen Klassen. Haywood is in the race for AUS MVP while a strong finish by the Axemen could secure Klassen a spot as a First Team All Star.

Acadia broke a nine game losing skid on Sunday with a buzzer beating tip in by Alex Mclaughlin vs. Dalhousie. The Huskies have lost five in a row including two heart breakers at the Tower to the X-Men and Capers when Saint Mary’s seemed to have each game in hand.

The Axemen have had the Huskies number this season beating them 97-90 in the season opener at the Tower and 91-81 in Wolfville. The Huskies got a measure of revenge last month with a 96-80 win in Halifax.

Game Notes
Joey Haywood is leading the nation in scoring with an average of 29 ppg. I had an interview earlier this month with Joey (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxRqWfHOru0) ….. Tory Fassett is in the running for an AUS Second team all star spot, averaging 17 points and 6 rebounds……Owen Klassen is averaging 18 pts and 10 rebs this season for the Axemen……Anthony Sears averages 17 ppg for Acadia……The Axemen victory over Dal on Sunday was by virtue of a spirited fourth quarter comeback. Owen Klassen’s three pointer came up short but Alex McLaughlin was there with a very difficult tip in to win it at the buzzer…..Acadia is the lowest scoring team in the conference while the Huskies are second to last in points allowed per game.

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