“You come at the king, you best not miss.”
There were two kings on the Dalplex court Jan. 21: The Dalhousie Tigers, reigning AUS champions, and the UPEI Panthers, currently ranked No. 1 in the league. Both teams had reason to be envious of the other, and both took their best shots. UPEI’s jab was a little bit better, though, as they were able to stave off a fourth quarter rally by the Tigers, winning the game 85 – 74 in a match that was much closer than the final score suggested.
The win cemented the Panthers’ position at the top of the league, 9 – 3, while Dal has now dropped two games in a row to fall to 4 – 6. The defeat is threatening to undo the Tigers’ three-game winning streak that returned them back to .500 after a sluggish first half to the season.
In an odd coincidence, Dal actually managed to outscore the Panthers over the final three quarters, 57 – 55. Unfortunately for the home squad, that was not enough to overcome the offensive outburst UPEI put up in the first quarter, blowing the doors off with a blistering 30 points to Dal’s 17. UPEI was led in that quarter by player of the game Terrance Brown, who scored 11 of his 13 points, including a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Indeed, three-point shooting was one of the cruxes of the Panthers’ victory, outscoring the Tigers 24 – 12 from deep. This was highlighted by UPEI’s 54 per cent shooting percentage in the first half to Dal’s diminutive 20 per cent.
Even so, the Tigers never threw in the towel, fighting tooth and nail with their feline opponents. After battling the Panthers to a 63 – 50 deficit at the end of the third quarter, the Tigers came out like gangbusters in the fourth, causing UPEI to commit three fouls in the first minute of the last quarter. This foul trouble allowed Dal to penetrate to the basket, starting off the quarter on a 6 – 0 run. That streak blossomed into a 13 – 4 mini-rout that forced UPEI to call a timeout and threatened to turn the tide of the game as the Panthers’ lead dwindled to just four points. The Tigers, however, would come no closer as a seven-point swing secured the Panthers’ victory.
Dal’s player of the game was third-year guard Casey Fox, who scored 20 points, but their fourth quarter charge was led by fifth-year Robert Nortmann and his eight of 17 points in the quarter, penetrating time and time again as he attempted to will his team to victory. UPEI’s scoring leaders were guards Jonathan Cooper and Donathan Moss. The duo each had 18 points.