by Cody Baugh
It was a history making season for the men’s basketball team. They won back-to-back AUS conference championship titles and made it to the national semifinals, two feats a Tigers men’s basketball team had never done before.
They started their season very strong, picking up wins in eight of their nine pre-season games before earning back-to-back wins over the UNB Varsity Reds and the Memorial Sea-Hawks to begin the regular season. After a 4-0 start, the Tigers suffered their first regular season loss to the Saint Mary’s Huskies. They finished the first half of the season with a 5-2 record.
During the first weekend of 2016, Dalhousie went 3-0 to win their annual Rod and Joan Shoveller Memorial Tournament.
Despite dropping their opening game of 2016 to Saint Mary’s, the Tigers would continue their strong play, finishing the second half at 8-5 for a 13-7 regular season record. Dalhousie would clinch the top seed in the AUS after a 94-81 home win against the number two- seeded UPEI Panthers.
With a quarter-final bye at the AUS tournament, the Tigers faced Saint Mary’s in the semifinal. Trailing 37-32 at halftime, Dalhousie relied on their league-leading defence to secure the win. The Tigers would force 20 turnovers in the game and walked away with a 75-74 win.
In the conference championship final, Dalhousie would face off against the UPEI Panthers. The Tigers found themselves in a hole early as the Panthers earned a 22-6 lead early in the first. They clawed away at the lead and found themselves down 37-36 at the half. AUS first team all-star Ritchie Kanza Mata scored 19 points in the second half to lead the charge for the Tigers after the break. Still trailing in the fourth quarter, AUS rookie of the year Jordan Aquino-Serjue scored a game-tying baseline jumper with just 35 seconds remaining in the game. The Tigers would take the lead and hold off the Panthers to claim their fourth AUS championship since 2009.
Kashrell Lawrence was named the tournament MVP for the second consecutive year. Both he and Kanza Mata were named tournament all-stars.
At the CIS championship at UBC, the Tigers faced the number three-seeded Ottawa Gee-Gees in the quarter-final round. The Tigers stalwart defence forced 24 turnovers, helping them to an 87-83 victory. Kanza Mata scored 24 points in the outing, securing them a trip to the semifinal round for the first time in Dalhousie history.
They faced the five-time defending champion Carleton in the semifinal. The number two-seeded Ravens controlled the Tigers offence with their CIS-leading defence and won the game 76-66. Lawrence scored a team-high of 18 in the loss, which pitted them against the number one-seeded Ryerson in the bronze medal game.
In their final outing of the year, the Tigers found themselves down early in the game. Despite a big push in the second half, the black and gold could not complete the comeback and would settle for fourth. Lawrence was hot again for the Tigers with 19 points and eight rebounds. At the end of the tournament, Sven Stammberger received the R.W. Pugh Fair Play & Sportsmanship award.
|AUS Award Winners||AUS Championship Award Winners||CIS Award Winners|
|Ritchie Kanza Mata: First Team All-Star
Kashrell Lawrence: Second Team All-Star
Jordan Aquino-Serjue: Rookie of the Year & All-Rookie Team
Rick Plato: Coach of the Year
|Kashrell Lawrence: MVP & All-Star
Ritchie Kanza Mata: All-Star
|Jordan Aquino-Serjue: All-Rookie Team
Sven Stammberger: R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award