The Dalhousie Tigers are on a calculated business trip!
Taking the first step towards their first U Sports Final 8 championship game, the No. 2 Dalhousie Tigers showcased their superior depth, outlasting the No. 7 Ottawa Gee-Gees 67-63 in an exciting and entertaining national quarter-finals game on Friday night at TD Place in Ottawa.
Been there, done that!
“We started off the season deliberately going on these road games where we have to win three-games in a row in consecutive days to win the championship of the tournament and it sets the pace that we look forward to at the end of the season because to win the national championship you have to do the same thing, three wins in three days.” those were the post-game words of well-spoken Atlantic University Sport MVP point guard Keevan Veinot.
Veinot led a well balanced and deep Tigers team with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Sacha Kappos slamed home two big dunks and nearly finished with a double-double with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Veteran guard Alex Carson added 9 points and 2 rebounds. Matt McVeigh knocked down two triples in seven minutes and finished with 8 points. Xavier Ochu 7 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals in game-high 35 minutes. Shamar Burrows 7 points, 2 rebounds buried a half–time buzzer beater to tie the game at 31-31.
The Tigers slowly took control of the game in second-half with strong defense and timely shoot making to outscoring the Gee-Gees 17-15 and 19-17 in the third and fourth-quarters.
“Didn’t really realize how deep we were until around, I would say half-way through the season and it’s definitely one of our biggest strengths when we can put ten guys on the floor and get them all double-digits minutes. We ended the half today, tied with four starters on the bench all having two fouls, so being able to have trust in the bench and the in role players to come in and not blow a lead is definitely in our favor” further elaborated Veinot.
Guillaume Pepin emptied the tank pouring every ounce of energy in a game-high double-double with 23 points and 15 rebounds for the Gee-Gees. Second-team All-Canadian Calvin Epistola played a great game with 18 points, 7 steals, 3 rebounds on 8-of-15 shooting.
The Garnett and Grey of Ottawa lost the game at the foul-line shooting an unreal 5-of-12 in the first-half, including an ugly 1-of-6 in the second-quarter and finished the game 15-of-27 (55.6%).
The Gee-Gees struggled for the second straight game at TD place knocking down just 4-of-19 triples compared to Tigers 8-of-15 three-point shooting.
No. 2 Dalhousie advances to their fourth national semi-finals in the last five years and will take No. 4 UBC Thunderbirds in an intriguing Atlantic versus West coast showdown. UBC opened their quarter-final game on 15-0 run and never looked back — pounding the Bishop’s Gaiters 103-66.
“My first year we didn’t make it to nationals but, last year we did and we played Carleton and we ended-up losing by 10 and we were up going into the fourth-quarter in our home court. There was three plays, three consecutive plays — we had turnover, missed shot, turnover and they came down and scored, scored, scored and we called a timeout and that three play span, I wouldn’t say haunts me but its definitely in the back of my mind.”
One more victory and the Tigers will roar into the final and will maybe get an opportunity to avenge the nightmarish sequence that potentially cost the Tigers in 2019 in their own backyard against the Carleton Ravens
“We just wanna win, we’ve been there, or Dalhousie has been there four out of the last five years we’ve been so close. We are committed, we lost by one to Ryerson or two. We there, were so close, we just gotta do it!” continued Veinot.