In a game where Canada held their opponents to a stingy 28 percent shooting, Canada still couldn’t find a way to pull away at any point from the athletic Senegal team largely due to their own offensive woes.
Senegal’s high energy level was appropriate for a team making their tournament debut in this game, as a 6-0 first quarter run against the Canadians playing for the second straight day gave them an early 20-16 lead and their largest of the game.
Canada regrouped after that though as they closed both of the opening quarters strong, with a 6-0 run in the first and limiting Senegal to just 2 points in over 5 minutes to close the half.
After just 11 points in the 2nd quarter, Canada was unable to work out their offensive challenges following the break as they ended the game without a 3-pointer on 11 attempts in the last 3 quarters. Senegal though had a similar fate after a hot start from beyond the arc, ending the game by hitting 6 of 31 in that same time frame. Canada coach Jay Triano put a positive spin on the lack of offense, saying “It was a great game if you love defense”.
Despite shooting just 3 of 10, Melvin Ejim played a big role off the bench in matching Senegal’s energy. Ejim finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds in just 20 minutes of action. Tristan Thompson pulled down 5 of his 10 rebounds at the offensive end, but was limited to just 7 points in over 30 minutes.
The star of the game though was unquestionably Senegal’s Maurice Ndour, who put up 16 points, 10 rebounds along with 6 blocks.
With the crowd filling up late in anticipation of the 2nd game featuring the Philippines, Senegal was given an extra boost as the local fans rooted on the underdogs helping them trim the lead to a single point with just 3 minutes left.
Cory Joseph though came up big late once again as he extended the lead back to 3, despite the extra attention sent his way throughout the game by the tough Senegal defense. He still managed to put up 13 points to lead Canada, including 3 big free throws down the stretch. Senegal did have a chance to take a lead with just under 30 seconds remaining, but their insistence on shooting 3’s hurt them yet again.
Tyler Ennis thought his team would benefit from the close contest against Senegal, saying that “it was great for us…just having one that was close under the belt and we really had to seal the game at the end”. With the win, Canada clinches first in their group and likely avoids a semi-final match up with France in the process. Canada now has two days off before taking on the loser of tomorrow’s France/New Zealand game on Saturday.