For the fifth time in the last six years the Dalhousie Tigers have claimed ownership of the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men’s basketball trophy.
The Tigers avenged their lone loss of the season knocking off the StFX X-men 76-64 to win their second straight AUS men’s basketball championship and advance to the 2020 U Sports Final 8.
Dalhousie’s depth and overall experience helped fight off a motivated X-men team that hang tough for three-quarters to the delight of the 4836 fans at the ScotiaBank Centre in the heart of downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dal’s record now stands at an impressive 34-1, 19-1 AUS, all wins against Canadian competition — the lone loss coming by one point, 78-77 on the road to the X-men of Antigonish.
Senior guard Alex Carson (Lower Sackville, NS) was inserted in the starting line-up and responded with a game-high 22 points, 5 rebounds on his way to the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours.
Keevan Veinot, the conference’s MVP flirted with a triple-double with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and was named the player of the game. “It felt great, if it can be against anyone, I’m glad it was X. We have had this rivalry since I’ve been here my first-year. They beat us in the playoffs (2018), our only loss so far this year. Coach K has a helluva a team and they got some great guards, but it feels great winning this with all the boys.”
Sascha Kappos, a 6’10” import from Miami, Florida added 14 points, 6 rebounds and Xavier Ochu (Milton, ON) was active with 9 points, 6 rebounds for the AUS champs.
Avan Nava (Mississauga, ON) led the X-men with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists. Justin Andrew (Hamilton, ON) contributed with 16 points, 3 rebounds and Azaro Roker (Nassau, Bahamas) added a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
StFX X-men shock-off an 0-for-6 start from three-pointers and used the three-ball to stay in the game trailing the Tigers 33-32 at half-time. A strong finish to the third-quarter by Dalhousie broke open a tightly contested affair as the Tigers took a 58-52 edge into the final 10 minutes of the game.
Overall the 2020 AUS Championships were a success with over 18, 358 fans flooding the gates of the ScotiaBank Centre over the course of the three-day tournament.
Shifting the gears to the U Sports Final 8, Dalhousie is all but assured the tournaments second seed. The defending champions Carleton Ravens (OUA Champions) have locked-up the number one spot.
Conference champions UBC Thunderbirds (Canada West), Bishop’s Gaiters (RSEQ) alongside runner-ups Western Mustangs (OUA) and Alberta Golden Bears (Canada West) will make-up the Final 8 teams that will compete for a national title starting March 6-8 in Ottawa.
The seeding committee is expected to announce the wild card and seedings for the tournament later this evening.