By Thomas Becker
The Dalhousie Tigers turned in a lopsided 82-53 victory over the UPEI Panthers thanks in large part to a dominant second half.
The Tigers (4-0) swarmed their opponent and took away everything they wanted to do, as they held the Panthers (1-4) to just 23 points, including eight in the fourth quarter. They also showcased their offensive firepower in the final 20 minutes, scoring 47 points on 51.6 per cent shooting.
"We work on it and we make a commitment to playing hard defence," said Tigers head coach Rick Plato. "When they start to slack off, that's when I have to lower the boom. But they understand that that's the difference maker, especially on the road."
Fifth-year forward Jordan Wilson finished with a game-high 14 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double and was named the Subway Player of the Game. Shamar Burrows led a bench unit that outscored UPEI 30-9 with his 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while starters Xavier Ochu and Jordan Brathwaite reached double figures with 11 each.
"Our lineup has great balance," Plato said. "They work hard every single day and the toughest thing for me right now is figuring out which 12 guys are going to dress with Alex Carson back."
Wilson and Sascha Kappos got it going early for the visitors and combined to score 15 of the team's 20 first-quarter points, while shooting an efficient 6-of-8.
All five starters scored for the Panthers, but they still trailed 20-14 after one thanks to the Tigers' five free throws.
After an Ochu triple extended the lead 25-16 early in the second, the home team countered with a Jamesley Jerome layup followed by an Elijah Miller long ball to cut it to four. The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half where the Tigers took a slim 35-30 advantage.
"We played too much one-on-one ball in the first half," Plato said. "They know what a good shot is and sometimes I think they get over exuberant and they try to take it in their own hands."
Dalhousie came out strong in the third and rallied around a Kappos dunk two minutes in. The play started a 9-2 run that was capped off by a Brent Martindale three-pointer followed by a Keevan Veinot drive to the basket for the hoop and the harm, which pushed the lead to 46-36. Through three quarters of action, the visitors were on top 56-45.
The Tigers showed off their championship pedigree in the final frame and delivered a punishing blow. The Panthers were limited to just three points in the first three minutes and were held without a field goal for the next six, as their opponent contested everything and gave them little room to operate. Dalhousie forced eight turnovers in the quarter and finished with 30 overall.
They also heated up on the offensive end, where they scored 26 points and shot 53.3 per cent from the field. The bench was responsible for 16 of those points, led by Burrows' eight.
Dakelle Brooks and Jerome were the lone Panthers to finish in double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The two teams will battle it out again on Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.
Photo Credit: Janessa Hogan