Second-half surge fuels Tigers comeback win at X

Dalhousie 77, St. FX 65… Turning the game around with their defense, rebounding and three-point shooting, the Tigers came all the way back from a 21-point, late second-quarter deficit, pulling away for good midway through the fourth quarter to stun the X-Men at home in a key four-point game.  Dalhousie (13-4, 36 points) now has a six-point lead atop the AUS standings.

5’11” Ritchie Kanza-Mata‘s only basket of the game, a three-pointer from the left wing with about 8 minutes remaining gave Dalhousie the lead for good and started a game-deciding 18-4 run that was culminated by back-to-back threes from 6’6″ Sven Stammberger, who had 16 points on 4-8 shooting from beyond the arc.  Kanza-Mata finished with 6 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists as Dal overcame a 3 for 18 start from 3 to finish a sizzling 7 for 10 from three-point land and pull away for the solid road win.  As always, 6’2″ Kash Lawrence (18 points, 10 rebounds) was a force inside, especially in the second half as the normally-active St. FX front line was held to zero offensive rebounds in the second half and Dal dominated the rebounding battle overall at 41-28.

X jumped out to an early 9-2 lead, making their first three 3’s of the game and upping the tempo with their 1-2-2 three-quarter court pressure that shortened possessions and then using their 3-2 zone in the quarter court to stifle what was a cold-shooting start for Dalhousie.  With 17 1/2 minutes gone in the game, Dal trailed 38-17 and X-Men looked to be on their way.  However, reserve wing Warren Liang knocked down a three and Tigers closed the final 2 1/2 minutes of the first half on a 9-0 run to provide some momentum for Dal, down only 12 at half.  Liang, who hit another three during the 4th quarter run, was instrumental off the bench as the other perimeter-oriented reserves on Dal generally struggled until late.

Tigers came out of halftime double teaming X’s guard tandem of 6’0″ Akil Charles and 6’1″ Davonte Provo, which changed X-Men’s offensive tempo, getting the game back to manageable.  More importantly, Dalhousie completely dominated the glass in the second half – most notably holding St. FX to zero offensive rebounds.  Defensively, Dal created 6 fourth-quarter turnovers and, after the hot start from downtown, X finished the game making just 2 of their final 18 shots from three-point land.  6’7″ Kevin Bercy had 24 points and 12 rebounds with 6 points coming in the final 1:49 of the game after Dal had taken a double digit lead.  Still, Bercy was last night and all season has been X’s workhorse.

X remains in 4th place at 8-7 with 26 points with games remaining against UNB (2 on the road, 1 at home), at Acadia (4 point game) and home to UPEI with still a reasonable shot at a first round bye in the AUS tournament, chasing UNB which is in second place with 30 points.  X travels to UNB this weekend while Dal is off for 10 days when they meet Saint Mary’s


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