A closely contested game. A potential game-winning shot in the final seconds. An entire arena holding its breath. The rivalry game Jan. 14 between the Dalhousie Tigers and the Saint Mary’s Huskies men’s varsity basketball teams had all you could ask for as a hoops fan. But, if you are a fan of the home Tigers, you went home a little bit happier as Dal managed to hold on for the win with a final score of 72 – 70.
The victory is Dal’s third consecutive win, turning their 1 – 4 record before the holiday break into a respectable 4 – 4 standing. The Tigers are good enough for fifth in the eight-team AUS.
Leading 58 – 52 at the end of the third quarter, the Tigers fended off a barrage from the Huskies led by fifth-year guard Jerome Smith. He won player of the game honours for the Huskies on the strength of his 22-point effort, 11 of which came in the topsy-turvy fourth quarter.
Smith, who appeared injured after he was helped off the court near the end of the first half, came back in the game looking decidedly no worse for wear. At one point he made back-to-back three pointers on subsequent trips down the floor for the Huskies.
Although it was Smith who led the Huskies back, it was also Smith who missed his second of two free throws in the closing minute, a shot which would have tied the game at 71, and put the pressure squarely on the Tigers.
Hoping to overcome a 71 – 70 deficit, the Huskies had to foul, putting Dal guard Ritchie Kanza Mata on the line, where he missed his second free throw after making his first. This opened the door for a SMU shot in the waning seconds that clanked off the rim, assuring the Tigers of their victory.
Dal’s game MVP was third-year guard Alexander Arthur, who scored 14 points in the game, shooting 4-for-7 from downtown. The Tigers’ leading scorer, however, was forward Robert Nortmann. He scored 17 points, along with 15 boards, including 11 off the offensive glass. Nortmann was a major contributor to the Tigers, winning the board battle 54 – 39.
Dal is home Jan. 21 against third place UPEI at the Dalplex. Game time is 8 p.m.