By: Mike Still
For the second-consecutive season, the Dalhousie Tigers and the Ryerson Rams will face off at the Arcelormittal Dofasco U SPORTS Men's Basketball Final 8, this time with a trip to the gold medal game on the line.
The Tigers will be looking to gain a measure of revenge, after falling 85-78 to the Rams in the bronze medal game last year, and will have the hometown crowd behind them at the Scotiabank Centre.
Dalhousie enters the contest on the shoulders of Kashrell Lawrence’s 28 point, 10 rebound performance in a last-second victory over the Alberta Golden Bears last night. They’ll need another spirited showing from the fifth-year senior to get past a stingy Rams team that was second in the OUA in opponent’s field goal percentage, at 37.7 percent.
This matchup will be a battle of two teams that thrive on the defensive end, with both giving up less than 75 points per game in the regular season.
The transition game may be the key to victory, as Ryerson flourishes from the perimeter when they have numbers, while Dalhousie prefers to take it inside and get to the line. The Tigers did an effective job shutting down a prolific three-point shooting team in the Golden Bears, and they’ll need a similar performance tomorrow night.
Lawrence and fellow fifth-years Ritchie Kanza Mata and Jarred Reid, as well as second-year Jordan Aquino-Serjue combined to force all 14 of Dalhousie’s steals last night, which paid dividends on the offensive end, resulting in 27 points. They’ll need much of the same defensive effort in order to stop U SPORTS first team All-Canadian guard Adika Peter-McNeilly, as well as wing Ammanuel Diressa – who got hot in the second half to lead the Rams with 24 points last night against Saint Mary’s.
Depth could be the difference in this contest, with Ryerson’s talented big-men Adam Voll and Filip Vujadinovic taking on Dal’s sharp-shooting Sven Stammberger, as well Ryall Stroud and Sascha Kappos in the post.
Voll and Vujadinovic combined to score 21 points against the Tigers in the bronze medal game last year, however with Stammberger’s impressive range, along with the addition of Stroud inside as well as Kappos’ improved mid-range game, the Tigers should be more than up to the task.
Tomorrow’s action takes place at 3:30 p.m. in the second semifinal of the day.