CALGARY, (Feb. 16, 2019) — SAIT Trojans men's basketball player John Smith would not be denied.
The visiting Medicine Hat College Rattlers did everything they could to keep the ball out of his hands, but the fourth-year guard from Lacey, Wash., ended up with a career best 43 points as his Trojans earned an 82-72 win in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) action played Saturday night at SAIT's Campus Centre.
"Our coach gave us a good game plan of letting me isolate instead of me coming off the pass," said Smith, a Business Administration student at SAIT. "We didn't have Ian (Tevis) tonight, so I knew I needed to step up. . . I thought I could get downhill early and get to the rim, and when they backed up, just shoot my shots. Worked out well."
SAIT improves to an ACAC best 19-1, while the Rattlers head home with a 12-8 mark.
Smith's 43 points included going 9-for-19 from the three-point line. The nine made threes gives him 90 on the season, tying the ACAC mark for three-pointers made in one year set by Lakeland College's Mike Page in 2006.
The southpaw guard reached 90 in 20 games, while Page set the record in 24 contests. With one more game remaining next Friday night at home against Ambrose, Smith will be eyeing the mark.
"Gotta save something for the last game, right?" Smith said with a smile.
The game started slow for both teams. With 3:30 left in the first quarter, the teams had combined for just 11 points, with the Rattlers holding a 6-5 lead.
When the first quarter finally came to a close, the Trojans and their guests were tied 16-16.
Contributing to the tepid start was the very physical play of the Rattlers. At times, the refs seemed to let the teams play, and SAIT had to adjust.
"We just have to take the punches and roll with them. If we do that, then we're going to be fine," Smith added. "It reminds me of playing back home, so I enjoyed it."
In the following quarter, SAIT turned things up a bit. Smith poured in 13 of his team's 24 points as they took a 40-31 lead into halftime.
The Trojans extended their lead to as much as 21 late in the third quarter, before the Rattlers clawed their way back, cutting the lead to four points with 4:15 left in the game.
Nineteen seconds later, Smith made good on a layup as the Trojans were able to pull away for good.
Despite the loss, the Rattlers received a massive game from Kieron Burgess, who scored 24 points and added 23 rebounds.