U SPORTS Men's Basketball: Conference Finals Roundup

Photo by Nick Pearce
Photo by Nick Pearce

AUS

Tigers three-peat as AUS men’s basketball champions with 63-60 come-from-behind victory over Huskies

(HALIFAX, N.S.) – The Dalhousie Tigers and the Saint Mary's Huskies faced off in the men's championship game of the Subway AUS Basketball Championships Sunday at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, N.S.

The Tigers earned a 63-60 win to earn the 2017 AUS conference title.

Sven Stammberger (Halifax, N.S.) led the Tigers in points with 21, adding one assist, two steals, one block, and going 5-9 from the three-point line.

The Tigers struggled to get on the board early in the opening quarter, with the Huskies taking off to an early 8-0 lead just two minutes into the first.

Saint Mary's held their lead after 10 minutes of play, to enter the second frame with a 19-14 edge.

AUS first team all-star Marquis Clayton (Halifax, N.S.) led the Huskies in the first with seven points, while Stammberger shot 2-2 at the three-point line to rack up eight points for the Tigers.

The Huskies extended their lead throughout the second quarter, as a buzzer beater three-pointer from Clayton allowed the Huskies to take a 39-29 lead at the halfway mark.

The Tigers began to mount their comeback in the third quarter. A steal from Ritchie Kanza Mata (Toronto, Ont.) at the halfway point of the third quarter allowed him to go to the basket for a layup, tying the game at 39-39.

Twenty seconds later, a Stammberger three-pointer and layup from Ryall Stroud (Toronto, Ont.) gave the Tigers a 47-42 edge, their first lead of the game. Dalhousie outscored Saint Mary's 20-6 in the third to hold a 49-45 edge heading into the final 10 minutes of regulation.

The fourth quarter saw back-and-forth action, with the Huskies looking to regain their lead. A massive dunk followed by a layup from Theon Reefer (Toronto, Ont.) cut the Tigers lead to 62-60 with just 38 seconds remaining in the frame.

But it wouldn't be enough. A made free throw by Jordan Aquino-Serjue (Montreal, Que.) made the score 63-60 as the Tigers held on for the championship win.

The Subway Player of the Game was awarded to Dalhousie's Stammberger, while Brian Rouse (Mississauga, Ont.) earned the honour for Saint Mary's. Rouse recorded 18 points, adding four rebounds, one assist and one steal.

AUS Defensive Player of the Year and first team all-star Kanza Mata earned the Wilson's Security Defensive Player of the Game award for the Tigers, while Clayton earned the honour for the Huskies.

Kanza Mata posted 19 points for Dalhousie, adding five rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Clayton recorded 16 points for Saint Mary's, along with one rebound, two assists, three steals, and one block.

Kanza Mata was named the championship MVP.

The tournament all-star team was made up of Tigers Stammberger, Kanza Mata and AUS first team all-star Kashrell Lawrence (Brampton, Ont.), along with Saint Mary's Clayton and Rouse.

Both the Huskies and the Tigers now advance to the Arcelormittal Dofasco U Sports Final 8 national championship being held March 9-12—also at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, N.S.

For more information on the national championship, visit final8.ca.

OUA

No. 2 Rams defeat No. 1 Ravens to win the Wilson Cup for second straight season

OTTAWA, Ont. - In a rematch of last year's OUA championship game, the Ryerson Rams once again defeated the Carleton Ravens, 86-79, to win their second straight Wilson Cup title.

Adika Peter-McNeilly had a tremendous 29-point and 12-rebound performance against the top defence in the nation to lead his team to the gold medal. After losing to the Rams 73-68 in last year's finals, 2017 OUA MVP Connor led the Ravens with 25-points and 7 triples, but ultimately fell short to the visiting Ryerson squad.

With the OUA title under their belt, the Rams will now look to Halifax for the U SPORTS national championship tournament, starting Thursday, March 9.

The Rams started the game on fire from deep, opening the scoring with a triple by Peter-McNeilly on their first possession of the game. Eddie Ekiyor responded on the other end with a thunderous throwdown for the Ravens' first points of the game, but the Rams proceeded to hit five threes in the opening five minutes of the game, shooting 5-for-8 from deep to start. The Ravens closed the gap by the end of the first, trailing by just one with 36 seconds left in the opening quarter after a Mitch Wood jumper, but Filip Vujadinovic hit his team's seventh triple as the buzzer expired, giving the Rams a 21-17 lead at the end of one.

Peter-McNeilly scored the first points of the second quarter as well, but the Ravens immediately went on a 7-0 run to capture their first lead of the game, off a Ryan Ejim post move. Juwon Grannum of the Rams retook the lead for his team with a pullup jumper, but Ekiyor's second dunk of the game, halfway through the second quarter, tied it up at 26 apiece. The game got more physical as the teams traded the lead back and forth to close out the second, with neither team able to pull ahead by more than a few points. Peter-McNeilly drew a foul with 4.2 seconds left in the first half, sunk the two free throws, and had his team up 38-34 at the break.

Peter-McNeilly scored 18 points for the Rams by the break, accounting for three of his team's nine first-half triples. Ekiyor led the Ravens with 10 points and nine rebounds at the half, while Connor Wood had 8 points off two triples. The Ravens outrebounded the Rams 24-14 in the opening half, but the Rams' terrific defence (5 steals and 4 blocks in the half) and their sweet shooting gave them the advantage to start.

The Ravens came out hard in the third, scoring six straight to start the quarter and take the lead. Ammanuel Diressa of the Rams responded with nine straight points for his team, putting the Rams back up by three. Connor Wood hit his third triple of the game at the perfect time, tying up the game at 47 with 4:45 to go. The Ravens and Rams traded leads a few more times throughout the third, but the Ravens went on a 10-2 run to close out the quarter, and they had a 58-54 lead going into the final period.

"I told them to just keep going, stick to the gameplan," said Rams head coach Roy Rana. "It's more about that, more about execution and motivation."

The Ravens and Rams traded triples to begin the fourth, going back to back with neither team able to gain the upper hand. Ryerson finally broke the stalemate by going on a 11-1 run, capped off by a pair of Peter-McNeilly free-throws to put the Rams up 70-66. Connor Wood hit his sixth triple of the game to cut the lead to one, but Ryerson went on another run, 7-0 this time, to regain control.

The Ravens kept coming, led by Ekiyor who scored 5 straight to keep his team in the game, but a Diressa triple with 1:08 left on the clock put the Rams up by 8, effectively crushing the Ravens' chances. Connor Wood hit another triple with 23 seconds left to cut the lead to five, but the Rams held on until the final buzzer, and walked away with their second straight Wilson Cup.

We let them get too many one-on-one looks (at the end)," said Connor Wood, when asked what went wrong for the Ravens near the end. "We let them get to the rim too many times without helping on defence, and had some turnovers, mostly by myself. We gotta make sure we hold it together for all 40 minutes."

Ammanuel Diressa ended with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists for the RRams. The duo of Peter-McNeilly and Diressa closed out the game in spectacular fashion for Ryerson, combining for 24 of the Rams' 32 fourth quarter points.

"It's great because it shows us that we can play in crunch time and that we don't have to get down on each other," said Diressa. "Just move on to the next play, we know when we get into these situations later on in the season, or next year, we can be confident that we can make plays and that guys won't be rattled."

The Rams also stepped it up defensively against the Ravens, collecting 12 steals and 11 blocks throughout the game. Combined with their 14 made triples on the night, the Rams outplayed the Ravens on both ends of the court to secure their second straight OUA championship.

"Every game is different," said coach Rama. "It comes down to possessions when you play good teams, and we made big shots down the stretch."

Ekiyor ended the game with 22 points and 12 rebounds on 9-for-13 shooting from the field, including many big dunks on the night, but was ultimately unable to close out the game for the Ravens. Kaza Kajami-Keane finished with 11 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds in the loss, and Ryan Ejim chipped in 10 points and 7 boards. Much like the Gee-Gees in their bronze medal game against Brock, the Ravens shot poorly from the charity stripe (8-for-16, 50%), the difference maker in such a close contest.

Although the Ravens walked away on Saturday with the tough loss, they will continue their season, alongside the Rams, in Halifax next week for the U SPORTS national championship tournament.

"They won nationals last year so I know they won't be worried about this game too much," said Diressa of the Ravens. "I know they're gonna move on from this, watch film, and take away from this game."

Connor Wood had a simple answer on what would motivate him looking forward to nationals: "This game."

The national championship tournament will tip-off on Thursday, March 9th in Halifax, NS.

 

Canada West

Golden Bears win 12th Canada West men's hoops title

CALGARY – Manitoba's Cinderella playoff run ended Saturday night at the hands of the Alberta Golden Bears, who controlled the 2017 Canada West Championship Game from start to finish en route to a 92-73 victory. 

It's Alberta's 12th title in men's basketball and third of the decade after winning in 2012 and 2014. 

First-team all-star Brody Clarke was unstoppable, finishing with a 29-12 double-double, while co-captain Mamadou Gueye finished with 20 and eight, following his monster 30-point game in the semi-final. 

"I just thank my teammates," Clarke said. 

Like what happened against Saskatchewan the day before, Alberta's opponent simply couldn't make threes, finishing 4-22 from downtown. 

At the other end, Canada West's best three-point shooting team finished 10-21 from beyond the arc and shot 54 per cent for the game. 

It's the second title for Gueye, who was part of the 2014 team as a rookie. 

"I'm just so happy right now," he said. 

After sweeping UBC on the road and then an incredible 74-72 victory over the host Dinos the night before, Manitoba fought all night and stayed within striking distance up until the fourth quarter when Alberta pulled away. 

Up by six at halftime, the two teams traded baskets in the third with Alberta leading by seven going into the fourth. 

The Golden Bears scored the first four points of the quarter, pushing the lead to 10 with five and a half minutes remaining at 72-62. 

Manitoba would cut it to eight, but then recruit Geoff Pippus got hot, hitting three threes in just over a minute to make it 84-66, as Alberta cruised to victory. 

The former UBC Thunderbird had seven points going into the fourth, but ended up scoring 11 in the final frame, while second-team all-star Austin Waddoups, another addition this year, had a solid game with 17 points. 

The Bisons were led by forward by Keith Omoerah, who finished with his fifth playoff double-double in six games with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while A.J. Basi also finished with 17 points and Ilarion Bonhomme added 15. 

Manitoba and Alberta now move onto the U SPORTS Final 8 Tournament next weekend in Halifax. 

Photo by David Moll

 

RSEQ

McGill wins Quebec title, berth at U SPORTS nationals 

The No. 6-ranked McGill Redmen defeated the UQAM Citadins 82-65 to earn their fourth RSEQ men’s basketball championship in the last five years.

McGill took control early in the game played at the Pierre Charbonneau Centre in Montreal on Saturday night and was never put under much pressure. After a well-executed 81-71 semifinal upset of the Concordia Stingers on Friday, the Citadins’ intensity and level of play declined in the final.

“We had too many mental lapses, too many turnovers,” said UQAM head coach Nate Philippe. “The more experienced, more mature team won.”

McGill’s Dele Ogundokun, the RSEQ regular season MVP and the player of the game in the championship, said his team was prepared for UQAM’s aggressive approach.

“We knew they were going grind it out,” he said. “It’s what they do, and we did what we do. We play with energy and play defence. We put ourselves in a position to win.”

McGill led 19-16 after the first quarter and had a 42-32 lead at halftime. In the fourth quarter the Redmen even stretched their lead to 30 points for a while.

“We came out a little flat in the first half,” said Ogundokun. “In the second half we were a little more aggressive on the defensive end. Those stops turned into offensive opportunities for us.”

Ogundokun had 13 points and four rebounds in the game. Teammate Jenning Leung was McGill’s top scorer with 15 points and he added six rebounds.

For UQAM, Greishe Clerjuste was the player of the game. He led all scorers with 24 points.

McGill has earned a berth at the U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax March 9-12.