Stifling zone propels Tigers to 2nd consecutive Shoveller championship

Packing it in defensively and eliminating easy Huskies transition scores were the hallmarks of Dalhousie’s comfortable 77-52 victory over cross-town rival Saint Mary’s Huskies as the defending AUS tournament champions captured their second consecutive Rod and Joan Shoveller Memorial tournament championship this afternoon at Dalplex in Halifax.

Veteran forward William Yengue led the way this afternoon with 22 points and 8 rebounds for the Tigers, who continue to get strong performances from different contributors each night.  Yengue, back for his fifth and final season of eligibility after sitting out the previous two seasons, is rounding into his all-AUS form last displayed in 2013-14.  The undersized Tigers are asking Yengue to guard bigger checks (or hiding their lack of size in a zone) and Yengue, against bigger teams such as SMU, gets more favorable match-ups that allow him to take advantage of his perimeter skills.  He scored in a variety of fashions today, knocking down 15 foot jumpers, getting to the rim off the dribble – exposing Huskies’ bigs ball “d” – and finishing several second chances.

Tournament MVP Ritchie Kanza-Mata was quiet offensively today but led the way in the Tigers semi-final victory and 6’6″ Sven Stammberger, who had the dunk of the tournament last night, added 10 and 6 today.  Dal’s depth also showed as 11 different Tigers saw action including sharpshooting Matt McVeigh who knocked down 3 3’s in the second half, propelling Dal to their largest leads of the game.

Huskies never really properly attacked Dal’s zone “d”, breaking down into one-pass (or no pass) takes on the vast majority of possessions.  When shots were available from downtown, SMU’s lack of a consistent perimeter threat was evident (Huskies went 2 for 20 from 3 today and shot just 34% overall).  SMU did do a decent job guarding the perimeter with their wings however Yengue and Stammberger did a nice job breaking down Osman Barrie and Achiul Lual off the bounce and defensively the zone limited the Huskies big’s touches (Barrie and Lual combined for just 10 points and 7 combined shots from the floor).

Saint Mary’s trailed by 8 at the half – teams combined to shoot 1 for 17 from 3 in the first 2 quarters – and got it down to 4 early in the third.  But, a staple of the Huskies offense is generating points off their defense for easy transition and Tigers virtually eliminated that today, taking decent care of the ball (14 turnovers).

Both teams showed the emotion of a late season game as there was plenty of trashy chatter and, among others, an altercation between SMU’s 6’5″ Theon Reefer and Dal’s Jordan Aquino-Serjue as both headed to their respective huddles for a time out.  

While today’s win was impressive for Dal, capping a solid weekend, these two teams will meet again for keeps in the AUS standings next Saturday at DalPlex in what promises to be another aggressive, testy match.


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