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Dal brings the Thunder against the Thunderbirds

The Dalhousie Tigers men’s basketball team defeated the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds 74-65 in the quarterfinals of the U Sports nationals at the Scotiabank Centre on March 8.

The Tigers held the second-best scoring team in U Sports to 65 points –– that’s 27 fewer than the 93.5 points the Thunderbirds averaged per game this regular season.

“It’s a defining element of our culture, the defence,” said Dal’s Head Coach Rick Plato. “If you don’t play defence, you’re not playing for me. I don’t care how good you are, you’re not going to play.”

The Thunderbirds had three high scorers that Dal had to stop. Jadon Cohee, Manroop Clair, and Grant Shephard all averaged above 16 points per game in the regular season. In this game, Cohee had eight points, and Clair had 11 because Dal decided to focus their defence against them. They left Sascha Kappos to guard Shephard by himself and Shepard scored 24 points and had 12 rebounds.

“Shephard is an outstanding player,” said Plato. “It’s like, pick your poison. I think we did a good job on Cohee and Clair. We know they can score and sometimes we left Sascha hung out to dry.”

Coming in hot

Dal started off hot in the first quarter with eight points from Alex Carson. He was on fire from beyond the arc knocking down two three-pointers and giving the crowd of 3,572 fans life early on.

Dalhousie led 15-9 at the end of the first quarter.

Carson led his team with 11 points at half-time. He hit two more three-pointers in the second half and finished the game with a team-high 17 points. He had four three-pointers in the game.

The Thunderbirds scored 20 points in the third quarter and narrowed the lead to eight points, but the Tigers regained the momentum with a slam dunk from Kappos and a layup from Xavier Ochu. At the end of the third quarter, they led 48-38.

A minute into the fourth quarter, Kappos had another dunk and a three-pointer to stretch Dal’s lead to 14 points –– their largest of the game.

Help from the crowd

The crowd was excited. It was loud in the arena with lots of support for Dalhousie. One fan brought a trombone into the game and would blast it while UBC was shooting free-throws.

Tiger Keevan Veinot said the crowd helped him with Dal’s third-quarter slide.

“It’s just a pat on the back, and you know no matter what happens, you have Dal with you,” said Veinot.

The Thunderbirds scored 27 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to make a come back as Dal headed to the free throw line to seal the game making five foul shots in the last minute of play.

Keevan Veinot was named the player of the game for Dal. He was the driving force for Dal’s offence. He scored 12 points and was also passing the ball well with nine assists.

With the win, Dalhousie advances to semi-finals against the Carleton Ravens-the top-ranked team in the country. They play Saturday at 6 p.m.

“To have the opportunity to play at home in front of all our fans, I think it was a great experience for the boys,” said Plato. “I think we’ll learn from it and be ready for a challenge tomorrow night because it is going to be a challenge, that’s for sure.”


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