One of the glaring stats from Sunday’s Saint Mary’s loss to Dal in the finals of the Shoveller was the wretched performance by the Huskies from downtown against a zone that SMU simply could not crack. Fast forward to this evening with the Huskies leaning on electric 6’0″ Marquis Clayton who delivered the unlocking key in all-conference fashion, knocking down 5 of his first 7 zone-busting threes as SMU built leads as large as 25 in third quarter in a dominating 80-64 win over the Tigers.
Clayton was equally effective spotting up in transition – Huskies were able to score much more off their defense – and in the quarter court while 6’3″ Brian Rouse was equally dynamic, getting to the rim and cleaning up the “o” glass with several back-breaking put-backs as the pair essentially had the game decided by the end of the 3rd.
Dal coach Rick Plato abandoned his zone in the third quarter when Huskies used strong help-side “d” to frustrate the Tigers, pulling away for a 23-6 run, started by a thunderous, two handed follow slam dunk by 6’5″ Theon Reefer, which in retrospect took the wind out of Dal and added more confidence to the Huskies.
The game remained relatively tight for much of the first half during which Huskies shot a sizzling 55% and grabbed leads as large as 8. Dal did run their offense well and had several open back door lay-ups against Huskies overplay but missed about 10 shots at or near the rim and appeared to begin to press late in the quarter. Virtually none of those same shots were available in the second half as Huskies stepped up their help side and paint “d”.
Dal played without 6’3″ Kashrell Lawrence this evening; the undersized forward was suspended for one game for leaving his bench on Sunday during a mid-court altercation between Reefer and Tigers Cedric Sanogo in which he appeared to be trying to play the role of peacemaker. 6’5″ William Yengue, the star of Sunday’s win, was initially in tonight’s starting lineup but did not see any action until the second quarter; he started the third but, much like the top players on both teams, saw no action in the fourth quarter when both teams dipped deep into their benches.
Clayton (23 points – all in the first 3 quarters) and Rouse (20 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) played only sparingly in the 4th for SMU. The impressive win was very important for Saint Mary’s as they move up the AUS table.