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Tigers come up short in semifinals

Dal battled hard but lost by 11 points to Carleton

The Dalhousie Tigers men’s basketball team lost a hard fought game against the Carleton Ravens in the U Sports semifinals by a score of 76-65 on March 10.

Going in as the underdogs, the Tigers stayed competitive all game against the top-ranked team in the nation, and a program that’s won 13 out of the past 16 national championships.

“We have a lot to be proud of and I just told (the players) that they have nothing to hang their heads about,” said Tigers’ Head Coach Rick Plato. “We want to come away with a bronze medal here tomorrow and end our season on a winning note.”

Game day

The Tigers opened the scoring with a three-pointer from Cedric Sanogo. Threes were key for the Tigers as the Ravens forced them to shoot from beyond the arc. They hit nine out of 29 three-point attempts in the game.

The Ravens got all their points in the first quarter from layups and free throws as the Tigers shut down any long range shooting opportunities. Carleton had a 20-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Ravens stretched their lead, but Sascha Kappos broke through the tight man-to-man defence and scored nine points in quick succession.

With five minutes left, Kappos sunk a three-pointer and had a monster dunk to tie the game 26-26 and give Dal the momentum. Kappos was named the player of the game for Dal, finishing with 12 points and two rebounds on offence, as well as a block and two steals on defence.

“I’m so proud of my team. We played our butts off the entire game and just came up short,” said Kappos.

In this image: Tiger Sascha Kappos goes up for a shot while being guarded by Raven Eddie Ekiyor.
Sascha Kappos goes up for a shot while being guarded by Eddie Ekiyor. Photo by Mitchell Ballachay.

Dal’s defence was strong as they held the Ravens scoreless for three and half minutes in the second quarter, but with a buzzer-beating three pointer, the Ravens took a 35-33 lead heading into half-time.

After half

Fighting a disciplined Carleton defence, the Tigers were forced to take unideal jump shots to avoid shot clock violations in the third quarter

Dal found their offensive groove in the last couple of minutes of the quarter as Kappos got fouled but managed to hit the shot and the following free-throw. Jordan Brathwaite and Keevan Veinot sunk threes to tie the game 53-53.

“They do such a good job, every time we messed up a switch they made a shot,” said Carleton’s Head Coach Dave Smart. “They’re young guys, but they are very talented.”

With two seconds to go, Alex Carson drove and drew a foul. He sunk one free throw and on the second, Xavier Ochu put in the rebound to give Dal a 56-53 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The Tigers didn’t rely on one individual to put up points; Kappos, Veinot, Brathwaite, Sanogo, and Carson all scored 10 or more points in the game.

In this image: Tiger Jordan Brathwaite shoots a three-point shot while Raven Munis Tutu tries to block it
Jordan Brathwaite shoots a three-point shot while Munis Tutu tries to block it. Photo by Mitchell Ballachay.

The crowd was electric once again as they supported the Tigers through the whole game. The Ravens weren’t distracted by the atmosphere.

“Focusing on your teammates, you don’t really hear the crowd anymore,” said fifth-year Troy Reid-Knight. “All that matters is the game.”

Carleton’s experience gave them an edge in the fourth-quarter as they regained the lead and held on late in the game.

“In the last seven minutes we didn’t make a lot of mistakes,” said Smart.

That was seen on the scoreboard as the Ravens put up 14 more points than the Tigers in the final quarter. The Tigers seemed to stray from their team play, relying on individuals to make risky shots that didn’t work.

“You are not going to do too well scoring nine points in the final quarter of a national semi-final, but we’ll learn from it and we’ll be better,” said Plato.

Munis Tutu and Eddie Ekiyor led the way offensively for the Ravens as both scored 21 points.

Dal continued to fight for every possession but Carleton held on for the 76-65 win. They advance to the U Sports gold medal game against the Calgary Dinos at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Dal, meanwhile, have a chance to win their second national bronze medal in three years when they play the Ryerson Rams at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

2 Comments

  1. […] playing a tough semifinal game against the Carleton Ravens the day before, the Tigers had to quickly regroup, but they […]

  2. Learning curve | Dalhousie Gazette on April 6, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    […] of British Columbia, and Dal defeated them 74-65. Dal’s next game was against the top-ranked Carleton Ravens. Dal played great and was leading by three points heading into the fourth […]

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