The fifth-seeded Dalhousie Tigers edged the fourth-seeded UBC Thunderbirds 74-65 in the fourth quarterfinal game of the U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8.
“To say I was proud would be an understatement – this team works hard every day,” said Dalhousie head coach Rick Plato, adding he “challenges” his players and they respond.
The hometown Tigers jumped to a 10-4 advantage midway through the first quarter, keyed by an Alex Carson three-pointer and a Sascha Kappos slam dunk, off a feed from teammate Keevan Veinot.
In a low-scoring opening 10 minutes, Carson – with his second basket from beyond the arc and eighth point of the quarter – gave Dalhousie a 15-7 edge.
Before the quarter ended, Jadon Cohee drove to the basket and finished, with his left hand, to trim the deficit for the Thunderbirds to 15-9.
Early in the second, off another Carson shot from downtown and a lay-up off the window from Veinot, the Tigers led 20-11.
Off a pair of low-post hoops from Player of the Game Grant Shephard, UBC trimmed the Dalhousie edge to 22-15.
A three-pointer from Veinot, the Tigers Player of the Game, and a lay-up from Mike Shoveller gave the Tigers a 12-point lead – 27-15 – before Mason Bourcier quieted the crowd with a three-pointer for the Thunderbirds.
Sparked by strong minutes late in the opening half from Shoveller, Dalhousie took a 33-18 advantage to the locker room.
The Thunderbirds opened the second half with a 5-0 run, including a lay-up from Bourcier and a three-pointer from Manroop Clair, to slice the Dalhousie edge to 33-23.
Midway through the third quarter, UBC’s Cohee netted a free throw and the Dalhousie lead was sliced to single digits at 36-27.
With an old-fashioned three-point play – the hoop and harm – from Grant Audu, the Thunderbirds pulled within eight points, but Kappos, with a thunderous dunk, and Xavier Ochu’s fast-break lay-up restored Dalhousie’s double-digit lead at 42-30.
The Tigers were up 48-38 after three quarters.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Kappos scored five straight points, including another dunk and a three-pointer, to make it 55-41 for the Tigers. With five minutes left in regulation time, the Tigers led 59-50.
Clair, with a shot from beyond the arc and a strong take to the basket, brought the Thunderbirds within seven at 62-55, but a stellar defensive play in the post by Shoveller ignited a fast break lay-up and foul shot from Ochu to restore the double-digit edge with less than three minutes remaining.
Bourcier, with five points on a pair of drives, made it 65-60, but Ochu answered with a base line lay-up and Kappos put an exclamation point on the win with another uncontested dunk.
Carson led the Tigers with 17 points, while Kappos added 15 and nine rebounds.
Veinot chipped in 12 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
“We were dialed in and we knew what we had to do,” said veteran guard Cedric Sanogo.
For the Thunderbirds, Shephard finished with a game-high 24 points, while completing the double-double with 12 rebounds.
Bourcier and Clair netted 17 and 11 points, respectively.
“They did a really good job stopping our runs,” said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson, noting his team had not been held to single digits in scoring, in consecutive quarters, all season.
The Tigers only surrendered nine points in the first and second quarters to their high-scoring opponent.
“We knew that they were a great defensive team,” added Hanson.
Shephard described the Tigers as “long and athletic.”
“They took a lot of our good looks away,” said the UBC big man.
The Tigers will take on the Carleton Ravens in one Saturday semifinal, at 5 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. PT on Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet Now and TVA Sports, while the Thunderbirds will tip off against the Alberta Golden Bears in a consolation semifinal at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.
Players of the Game
- UBC: Grant Shephard
- Dalhousie: Keevan Veinot