A battle of teams undefeated in AUS conference play highlights an intriguing night of Semi Final action at the Rod Shoveller Tournament at Dalplex.
The first game tips off at 6:00 and pits the UPEI Panthers (6-0, 2nd place in AUS) versus the nationally ranked Saint Francis Xavier X-Men (5-0, 1st place). The nightcap has the host Dalhousie Tigers looking to upset the Concordia Stingers ranked 10th in the country.
UPEI vs #2 St FX (6:00, webcast on ssncanada)
The Panthers looked downright scary in a 78-64 trouncing of Acadia in a game that was never close after the opening few minutes. Newcomer Donathan Moss and 5th year senior Jonathan Cooper dominated the Acadia backcourt causing full court chaos, creating multiple turnovers and easy baskets for UPEI as they led 25-10 after the first quarter.
In the second half Manock Lual took over on both ends of the floor pushing the Panthers lead to 24 points midway thru the third quarter. Lual would garner Player of the Game honours by virtue of a 23 point performance.
Meanwhile the X-Men had all they could handle dealing with a spirited effort from a deep and talented Ottawa Gee Gees team. The Gee Gees controlled the majority of the game and led 41-28 in the third quarter but couldn't hold off the latest X-Men second half charge, a staple of their season so far.
Bol Kong made his highly anticipated debut and the rust was evident especially in the first half when he traveled in the back court trying to navigate some token pressure from Ottawa. Kong took seven three pointers and connected on only one, but that one tied the game in the final minute and forced overtime.
In the extra session Kong made a beautiful spin move in the lane giving the X-Men a 74-69 lead and they barely held on for a 74-71 win.
Athleticism galore will be on display tonight at the Dalplex as both squads can run and jump with any team in the country. The battle of the guards will be a major storyline with the Panthers talented trio of Moss, Cooper, and Terrance Brown facing off against a batch of athletic guards from the X-Men featuring Terry Thomas.
The critical match up could be Lual vs Kong, although Tim Kendrick may put Lual on high scoring Jeremy Dunn and have hard working Jermaine Duke try and contain Kong.
Regardless, this is undoubtedly the game to watch in the country tonight, and should be an absolute dandy.
#10 Concordia vs Dalhousie (webcast on ssncanada)
The Tigers rolled over RMC 114-50 in their opening game last night while the Stingers took full advantage of horrible foul shooting from Saint Mary's (12-28 from the line) to squeeze out a 90-87 win.
The Tigers will once again be without the services of 2nd year guard Jumol Mullings. Coach John Campbell says he's still about 1-2 weeks away from returning.
Bad news for a Tigers squad that doesn't go deep playing a Stingers team that features a solid 10 man rotation led by do everything guard Kyle Desmarais.
Another problem for the Tigers will be the depth at the post position of the Stingers with Zach Brisebois, James Clark, and Taylor Garner.
Sam Williams and Nathan Smith will have to provide a huge effort in support of Robert Nortmann, and expect Will Yengue to be asked to guard the post tonight, something he's very capable of.
Casey Fox was stellar in the first half versus RMC and after a difficult term could be returning to the level of play he exhibited in two years at Acadia. Tigers faithful hope so as the team will need someone to take charge down the stretch of what should be a very close basketball game.
Top Stat Lines from Opening Night
Jonathan Cooper, UPEI- 17 pts, 6 assists, 5 steals.
Manock Lual, UPEI- 23 pts, 6 rebs
Johnny Berhanemeskel, Ottawa- 31 pts, 7-13 3-PT
Terry Thomas, St FX- 19 pts, 5 rebs, 8 turnovers
Derek Norris, Dalhousie- 20 pts, 5 rebs, 3 assists, 3 steals
Sam Williams, Dalhousie- 20 pts, 9 rebs
James Byun, RMC- 22 pts, 6-13 3-PT
Evans Laroche, Concordia- 24 pts, 9 rebs
Harry Ezenibe, SMU- 22 pts, 17 rebs