Halifax, NS—If you somehow missed Dalhousie versus Cape Breton on Saturday night, you surely should be kicking yourself. The two Nova Scotia teams battled to the final seconds. The undefeated Capers pulled it out in the final moments and defeated the Tigers 76-74 in a game that will be remembered as a game for the ages.
Residence night at the Dalplex meant the stands were filled and the crowd was loud with university students cheering on their fellow classmates. However, that didn’t deter the Capers who had played six games in ten days, but showed no signs of slowing down.
Head Coach Matt Skinn spoke to NPH after the game “The last two nights we showed a lot of toughness and perseverance…it’s nice right now because this was our sixth game in ten days. It’s a really long stretch for us and to be able to come in and win these two games on the road is a huge accomplishment for our team.”
From the beginning the Dalhousie crowd was into the game, and the Tigers used that to their advantage. The Capers were also playing without freshman standout Shaq Keith who was sidelined due to an illness. Dalhousie set the tone from the beginning and opened with a strong defensive quarter limiting the Capers to only 10 points. Their strong defence continued into the second quarter as they limited reigning AUS MVP & NPH #2-ranked player in the nation James Dorsey to six points in the half.
The strong defence played by first year’s Jarred Reid and Hassan Abdullahi was noted as throughout the game they were draped over one of the best players in the country. Using their athleticism they slowed down his production and forced him into tough shots.
While the Tigers were unable to pull away offensively they had a strong eleven point lead with seconds left in the first half. Mr. MVP had other ideas as Dorsey launched a half-court shot to beat the buzzer, and drained it like it was a simple free throw. The Tigers entered the break leading 32-24.
Following halftime, the Tigers continued their strong play and Simon Marr started to make an impact on the game. The night prior Marr had a huge performance scoring 20 points in the first half, this time he managed 16 points in the second half and finished with 20. Heading into the final quarter the Tigers still led the undefeated Capers 55-44.
Cue the dramatic comeback.
The Capers were not going to admit defeat and played their best quarter by far. Offensively, they became consistent and started making big time shots. They also received big time second half production from Kayon Mayers, Sean McCormick and help from Dorsey.
As the final quarter progressed the once large Dalhousie lead disappeared. Cape Breton had battled back to tie it up at 63 with plenty of time remaining. Mayers made a huge three pointer to give CBU a one point lead.
Mayers would continue his offensive attack and converted another three. Dalhousie had their possession come up empty and with a missed attempt at grabbing the rebound, Mayers sprung for the fast break two handed slam. After the dunk, Mayers stared down the Dalhousie fans and forced the Tigers to take a timeout as they now trailed by five.
“It was a crazy atmosphere, they were talking a lot of smack to us, and I thought it was time that we show them who we are.” Said Mayers
With less than a minute left and down by five Dalhousie would not give up that easily. Simon Marr knocked down a crucial long two but was later reversed to be a three pointer. Dalhousie trailed by two with 32.5 second left in the game forcing them to foul Dorsey and send him to the line. He split the free throws which resulted in a three-point Tigers deficit with the ball.
Forget the drama, cue the story book ending. Dalhousie set up their offense and was struggling to find a good shot; Cape Breton was playing solid defence. Devon Stedman the 6’7 freshman got the ball at the top of the three point line and took the contest shot. He connected on the crazy shot that sent the Dalplex into a frenzy, as fans erupted!
Cape Breton took a timeout to talk it over for one last shot with 8.2 seconds left in the game. CBU inbounded the ball; Dalhousie was doubling up on Dorsey.
He finally received the ball as the clock was running down, and drove to be met by the help defence from Dalhousie; this left an open Sean McCormick. Dorsey saw the opportunity and instead of shooting it, fed McCormick for the easy layup.
You could feel the crowd at the Dalplex exhale in disappointment for being so close. Still with 2.2 seconds left Derek Norris attempted a full court shot to win the game, but was unsuccessful.
Cape Breton pulled off a crazy comeback to stay undefeated and in the fourth quarter outscored Dalhousie 32-19 on the heels of Mayers and McCormick.
Mayers who scored 19 points in the second half, spoke about the game “It means a lot this victory shows how far we can go when we decide to play hard but we just need to be more consistent with our effort and we can’t go into a game thinking that we’ve already won.”
McCormick spoke after the game about the final minutes, “It was tough, we had to run our stuff and we weren’t running it too much all game but we got it together in the end.” McCormick who finished with 11 points in the game, all of them coming in the second half, said that he wasn’t playing his aggressive game like he was used to and got back to that in the second half.
“It’s a four point win which is huge for us and we had a goal at the beginning of the season to get a first round bye and this win helps us” said Head Coach Skinn.
Cape Breton stays undefeated on the year improving to 14-0 and managed to fend off two Halifax teams looking to pull off an upset. Dalhousie falls to 6-7 but continues to have a strong second half of their season showing that they can play with the best in the conference. The final six is a few weeks away and it’s going to be exciting times at the Metro Centre come March 1-3. Stay tuned!
NPH Top Performers
Kayon Mayers – 21pts (19 in second half), 4rebs, 5asts, 2stls
James Dorsey – 14pts, 3asts, 3stls
Arild Geugjes – 14pts, 3rebs
Sean McCormich – 11pts (all in second half), 7rebs
Simon Marr – 20pts (16 in second half), 6rebs, 3asts
William Yengue – 12pts, 5rebs
Hassan Abudllahi – 10pts, 5rebs, 3asts