(FREDERICTON, NB) The Dalhousie Tigers outscored the UNB Varsity Reds 15-6 in final four minutes to take a 91-87 win in the first of a two-game weekend series.
Ritchie Kanza Mata grabbed his own free throw rebound in the final seconds to seal the deal for the Tigers.
It was the fourth straight game, since the AUS playoffs last year, that Dal has overcome double-digit deficits to beat the Varsity Reds.
On top of his game saving rebound, Mata had a stand-out night for the Tigers, scoring 24 second-half points and nine earning rebounds.
"It was chaotic," said Kanza Mata. "I just thought follow the rebound because they didn't have anyone in rebounding, so just saw it and took advantage."
Four Varsity Reds had double digit scoring nights, but Javon Masters led the way with 34 points. Matt Daley scored 13 and mustered an impressive 10 assists, in 20 minutes played.
"This team, they can shoot the basketball," said Dalhousie head coach Rick Plato.
"Like I told the boys coming in here, they're the best shooting team in the league and one of the best shooting teams in the country."
The first quarter was all UNB. The Reds went on a 13-3 run to jump ahead of the Tigers.
"You try to neutralize Matt Daley and Javon Masters, but (Jesse) Kendall can shoot the ball, and (Mark)Matheson can shoot the ball and (Kaleefah) Henry plays his role, they're a really good team and we're fortunate, especially digging a hole in the first quarter," said Plato.
The Tigers clawed their way back in the second quarter, forcing lots of UNB turnovers and making multiple trips to the free-throw line.
Sven Stammberger scored an impressive three three-pointers on three attempts and went 5-6 from the field scoring 15 points in the first half to give his team the support they needed to get back in the game.
Dalhousie cut the lead down and led for one possession in the flip-flop second quarter, before Masters took the lead back with a basket behind the arc.
In a low scoring third quarter, UNB managed to net 18 buckets, five more points than the Tigers.
Javon Masters, the AUS leader for free throws, once again made a splash from the free throw line scoring 12 of his 34 from the stripe.
A back and forth fourth quarter saw the Tigers cut down an eight point lead, and take the lead with only two minutes left.
"We thought if we could get it within five it was anybody's game and that's what we did," said Kanza Mata.
"I can't wait for tomorrow," said Javon Masters. "We had them, just some defensive possessions that we didn't complete."
"I think we hit them when we needed to and we were lucky there (…) we did a good job and I'm proud of them," said Plato
The Varsity Reds and Tigers tangle again Saturday, at the Currie Centre. Tip off is scheduled for 8:00PM.
BY – MICHAEL BOURGEOIS FOR UNB ATHLETICS