QUEBEC CITY, QC – The Rouge et Or faced off with the Dalhousie Tigers for the last game of their home tournament, a contest which proved to be all about defense. Thibaud Dezutter shined down the stretch, as Laval closed the game on a 13-2 run and won it 56-52 on Saturday night.
Having witnessed how much damage Devon Stedman and Simon Marr had done to the McMaster defense the night before, Laval went on and double-teamed them from the start, leading to numerous long Dalhousie possessions, hurried shots and shot clock violations.
“They did a really good job, they knew we like to go inside and we didn’t really pass well out of the double team”, Tigers coach Rick Plato said. “On offense, basically, we weren’t moving.”
As for Laval, it was a matter of recognizing the threats Dalhousie presented. “We made some last-minute adjustements on defense to be able to counter them well, and the guys did a very good job assimilating”, said Rouge et Or Head Coach Jacques Paiement Jr.
Kashrell Lawrence however did create scoring opportunities once again, as Thibaud Dezutter found out he was an even tougher matchup than Terrell Campbell of Algoma; the Dalhousie swingman finished with 18.
On the other end, the Tigers went back to mixing defenses. That seemed to confuse Laval, who found scoring mostly on drives through the lane. One exception was a long Nicolas Begin pull-up jumper to close the first quarter. That made it 16-12 Laval.
In the second, Lawrence and Dezutter went back at it; the latter hit two three-pointers in the teeth of Dalhousie’s zone defense, just like his teammate Begin, to give the Rouge et Or an edge. But the Tigers weren’t going away. Kashrell Lawrence led the charge, helped by a buzzer-beater put-back from Nathan Smith to put his team on top 26-25 at halftime.
Both teams exchanged baskets until midway through the fourth quarter. Dalhousie then began to trap Laval guards in the half-court, leading to turnovers and bad offensive possessions. In addition, the Tigers were on the penalty with 7:50 left, as they took a 50-43 lead.
They couldn’t close it though, as Laval went on a 13-2 run to close the game. “Ultimately it was our lack of execution down the stretch,” said Plato. “We were in the bonus and went to the foul line once, that’s unacceptable.”
Thibaud Dezutter and Paul Marchand-Segui provided much needed offense for the Rouge et Or on the last few possessions, beating Tigers defenders on the inside.
“Offensively we were looking for answers the whole game, they did a terrific job defensively”, said coach Paiement. “But we scored when it mattered most. We knew we had good options down the stretch.”
The Quebec City team was once again missing starters Boris Hadzimuratovic and Hugues Ryan.
Laval won it 56-52, and finished their tournament with a 2-1 record. They play their next exhibition game in Maine next week, before opening the season on November 8 at home against McGill.
As for Dalhousie, “We have to be more efficient, quicker, stronger”, said Rick Plato. “Kashrell [Lawrence] had two really good games, but our other big guys have to do a better job reacting to double-teams.”
“We will learn from this. That’s why we play exhibition games.”
NPH TOP PERFORMERS
- Thibaud Dezutter: 18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists.
- Antoine Beaumier: 8 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals.
- Kashrell Lawrence: 18 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal.
- Ritchie Kanza Mata: 10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists