Tigers comeback to edge Axemen 78-75 to advance to AUS finals

Photo by Nick Pearce
Photo by Nick Pearce

(HALIFAX, N.S.) - The Dalhousie Tigers and the Acadia Axemen faced off in the second of two men's semi-final matchups in the Subway AUS Basketball Championships Saturday evening at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, N.S.

The Tigers earned a 78-75 win to advance to Sunday's finals.

Ken Shields Award nominee and AUS first team all-star Kashrell Lawrence (Brampton, Ont.) posted 20 points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal for Dalhousie. AUS Defensive Player of the Year and first team all-star Ritchie Kanza Mata (Toronto, Ont.) recorded 18 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals in the victory.

The first quarter started off with an even back-and-forth effort between both squads, until Dalhousie took off to an 11-7 lead three minutes in. A three-pointer from Sven Stammberger (Halifax, N.S.) allowed the Tigers to extend their lead at the halfway mark of the first frame.

The Axemen began to play catchup with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter, scoring three back-to-back baskets to cut the Tigers lead to 19-15 heading into the second frame. Kanza Mata and Erik Nissen (Quispamsis, N.B) led their respective squads with six points apiece.

Dalhousie maintained their lead throughout the second quarter, until a three-point shot from Acadia's Nick De Palma (Bedford, N.S.) tied the score at 37-37.

Just thirty seconds after, the Axemen took the lead with a Nissen layup. Acadia kept a slight one-point lead over Dalhousie at the halfway mark, 44-43.

The third quarter saw even play and low scoring from both sides, with the score tied at 57-57 heading into the final frame.  

At the halfway mark of the fourth quarter, a three-pointer from Acadia's Trevon Grant (Nassau, Bahamas) allowed Acadia to take their biggest lead of the game, 69-63, with 4:28 remaining in regulation.

The Axemen maintained their lead with two minutes left, as a huge three-pointer from De Palma gave Acadia the 75-69 lead.

With 19 seconds on the clock, a foul against Acadia's Nissen sent Jarred Reid (Aurora, Ont.) to the free-throw line, who put Dalhousie within one point.

A turnover from Acadia's Kyle Arseneault (Fredericton, N.B.) allowed Sven Stammberger (Halifax, N.S.) to steal the ball and head to the net for a massive dunk to take a 76-75 lead with just 15.5 seconds left on the clock.

Two successful free throws from Dalhousie's Lawrence solidified the Tigers' win, as they earned a 78-75 victory.

The Subway Player of the Game was awarded to Dalhousie's Kanza Mata, while De Palma earned the honour for the Acadia. De Palma posted 22 points, adding two rebounds and one steal. He also made six of eight three-pointers attempted Saturday night.

AUS second team all-star Nissen earned the Wilson's Security Defensive Player of the Game award for Acadia, while Stammberger earned the honour for Dalhousie. Nissen recorded 13 points, adding eight rebounds, two assists, and four blocks. Stammberger recorded 15 points for the Tigers, adding six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

The Tigers now advance to the Subway AUS Men's Basketball Championship final. They will face the winner of the Saint Mary's Huskies Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Scotiabank Centre.

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