5’11” Ritchie Kanza-Mata attacked the rim all night and Tigers zone defense made life difficult for Concordia’s perimeter game as Dalhousie held double digit leads for much of the evening before holding on mid-way through the fourth quarter on for a 65-60 win over the Stingers in the second semi-final at the 24th Shoveller tournament, setting up an all-Halifax championship game tomorrow afternoon.
Kanza-Mata got himself in the lane off the dribble and attacked in transition, finishing with 17 points and did a splendid job at the top of the Tigers zone, which helped force Concordia into missing their first 16 shots from downtown overall. In fact, Stingers only got themselves back in the game on the strength of making 4 of their final 5 3’s – all in the fourth quarter – three of which were knocked down by 6’5″ stretch 4-man Jean-Daniel Mathieu, a freshman from Vanier College, who was able to get free for catch-and-shoots both in transition and draw-and-kicks in the quarter court. Mathieu, who appeared in only 3 games in the first half of the RSEQ regular season, averaging just 5 minutes a game and only 1-5 overall from 3, showed a sweet stroke when left alone – bottoming out three 3’s in the final frame overall; his ability to get shots off and stretch “d’s” is a very positive sign for Stingers and Coach Rastko Popovic.
Stingers were also hurt by the foul count 25-13; tigers went to the line 29 times against only 9 for Concordia
As forecasted, the game featured a pair of teams that emphasize stopping transition and guarding in the quarter-court. Tigers played the majority of possessions in a zone but did tactically switch to man, including the final possession for Concordia out of a timeout which forced a turnover and sealed the deal. Stingers also guarded the ball very well for the most part, resulting in a game in the 60’s.
Mathieu’s second three of the game got the game back to within 4 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining however on the next possession Dal’s rapidly-improving 6’6″ wing forward Sven Stammberger brought the crowd to their collective feet with a spinning slam in traffic on 6’5″ Michael Fosu and much of the air was removed from Concordia’s comeback.
Prior to the 4th quarter, Fosu was the only legitimate offensive weapon for Concordia, scoring 19 of his game-high 22 points in the first 3 quarters. Fosu exposed what could be Dal’s biggest defensive weakness, namely an intimidating rim protector as the undersized post used his strength and mobility to finish several “and 1’s” inside, keeping Stingers within striking distance before Mathieu got going.
Tomorrow afternoon’s final between the two Halifax schools will be a contrast in styles. Saint Mary’s pounded Dal at the Homburg Center 77-58 when the teams met last in the AUS regular season. Earlier Kevin Duong knocked down a jumper at the buzzer as Dal won 102-100 when the teams met in the pre-season at the St. FX Invitational in Antigonish.
Watch the game beginning at 2 PM ET/3 PM AT on AUS TV.