Big fourth leads Moncton Miracles past Mississauga Power

Lathan, Vanzant lead way in National Basketball League victory

MISSISSAUGA – Trayvon Lathan had 24 points and nine rebounds, while Shawn Vanzant scored 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Moncton Miracles slipped by the Mississauga Power 112-103 at the Hershey Centre in National Basketball League of Canada action Friday night.

Daquan Brooks also provided 20 points and eight assists for Moncton (8-24), who shot 51 percent on the night and won a road game by their largest margin all season. The Miracles were looking to complete their season on a high note, after falling 130-99 to Brampton last night at the Powerade Centre.

Mississauga (7-24) replied with 21 points from Malcolm Grant and 16 rebounds from Douglas Thomas in the team’s final home game of the regular season. The Power came into the evening losers of three straight, and looking to avenge a hard-fought 100-94 loss in Moncton on Jan. 10.

Both teams came out with a sense of urgency in the first quarter as Mississauga native Tut Ruach and Thomas provided a spark.

With the game tied at eight, Thomas’ feed from Ruach was slammed home giving the Power an early two-point lead.

Lathan and company stormed back, with the 6-foot-7 guard’s three ball giving Moncton a 20-17 lead with just over two minutes to go in the quarter. For Lathan, the basket counted three of his 13 first quarter points on an efficient six-for-seven shooting line.

Power came back with one final push to end the frame, as Tyrone Garland’s buzzer beater brought the crowd to their feet, and tied the game at 23. With the shot clock and game clock winding down, Garland spun and launched a midrange pull-up that just got by the outstretched arms of two Moncton defenders.

Miracles took control of the game in the second, due to sloppy play and poor defence from the Power. Moncton knocked down five triples in the quarter, led by Chris Matthews who notched three in the frame from behind the arc.

Speedy point guard Brooks also gave the home team trouble in the quarter, using his ball handling and agility to penetrate Mississauga’s defence. The 5-foot-9 point guard’s four assists and seven second quarter points gave Moncton a chance to rest Lathan, and enter the half leading 55-42.

Power came out of the half and sped up the tempo, distributing the ball and generating open looks on the perimeter. Down as much as 15, Mississauga cut the Moncton lead to 62-56, behind back to back three pointers by Omar Strong and Garland.

The home side used the long ball to stay in the game all quarter, getting three in the period from Strong after a 0-for-5 first half. Despite the run, Moncton went into the final frame up 80-70.

Power didn’t go down without making it close, provided their fans an exciting final regular season quarter, falling just short of a major comeback in the games dying minutes.

Behind an enthusiastic bunch of fans, Mississauga’s late 9-2 run cut the Moncton lead to 108-103 after a pair of Grant three pointers and one from Brian Olliver with 1:13 remaining.

With a chance to cut the lead to a single possession, the Power were unable to contain the Miracles on the glass during the game’s most crucial period. Despite being outrebounded 48-42, Moncton grabbed the game’s most important board on the offensive glass with under just 25.7 seconds left, resulting in a pair of free throws to ice the game.

The Power end their season against the London Lightning tomorrow night at Budweiser Gardens, and will face the Windsor Express in round one of the playoffs. The best of three will start off in Windsor, with Mississauga playing at their first home playoff game March 12.

Notes: Friday night’s matchup provided a homecoming for Miracles guard Tyler Murray, a Mississauga native. The 6-foot-5 Murray finished the night with nine points, five rebounds and six assists in 33 minutes … Toronto native and University of Ottawa product Shamus Ferguson also suited up for Moncton. The centre had six points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.