Capers drop home opener to defending-champion Tigers

Capers drop home opener to defending-champion Tigers

Capers drop home opener to defending-champion Tigers


By Corey LeBlanc


Sydney, N.S. – The defending conference-champion Dalhousie Tigers (1-0) tipped off the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) men's basketball regular season with a 63-54 victory over the Cape Breton University (CBU) Capers (0-1) on Friday night at Sullivan Field House. 

Without all-star starters, Alex Carson (Lower Sackville, N.S.) and Keevan Veinot (Port Williams, N.S.) the scrappy and defensively-focused Tigers scored the impressive road victory.

In a low-scoring first quarter, it was the Samuel Wade (Wallace, N.S.) show for the Tigers.

After the Capers took an early 9-5 edge on an athletic fade-away jumper by Osman Omar (Mississauga, ON), Wade started a run of eight consecutive points with a three-point play, which came off an acrobatic layup, foul and free throw. He capped a 10-0 burst for Dalhousie with an assist on a Marley Blommers (Chatham, ON) layup that gave the visitors a 15-9 lead.

The Tigers led 19-11 after the opening 10 minutes.

With a 6-0 run to start the second quarter, one capped by a three-pointer from freshman Chris Ruta (Calgary, AB), the Capers sliced the deficit to 19-17.

Malcolm Christie (Fredericton, N.B.) answered for the Tigers by draining back-to-back three-pointers that extended his team's advantage to 25-17.

In a quarter of mini-runs, the Capers answered with a 7-0 spurt, which included a C.J. Bennett (Brampton, ON) jump shot from downtown and a steal and save by Omar, a dazzling play that Jason Callaghan (Sydney, N.S.) finished with a layup.

Bloomers stopped the run, one that pulled the Capers within one point – at 25-24, with two out of three free throws after he was fouled on a three-point shot.

Trailing by seven in the final seconds of the half, Callaghan eluded a Dal defender and drained a leaning three-pointer at the buzzer to trim the Tigers' lead to 35-31 heading to the locker room.

In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Dalhousie – sparked by a 7-1 run – took their first double-digit edge at 42-32, which was keyed by a Blommers shot from downtown and a twisting lay-in from Nginyu Ngala (Montreal, QC).

Off the strength of a ramped-up defensive effort, the Capers caused a couple of turnovers, which led to consecutive lay-ins for Omar to make it 42-36 for the Tigers.

Late in the third quarter, Ruta put the exclamation point on a 12-2 run for the Capers with a three-pointer that knotted the contest at 44-44.

A three-pointer from Alex Ruiz (Valencia, Spain) in the closing seconds gave the Tigers a 47-44 edge heading to the fourth quarter.  

It took more than 90 seconds to get the first points of the final frame, coming on an old-fashioned three-point play from Diangelo Woodside (New Providence, Bahamas) that tied the score at 47-47.

Midway through the fourth quarter, buoyed by a 7-0 spurt, which included three points from Samuel Maillet (Moncton, N.B.) and consecutive layups from Blommers and Ifesinachi Chiekwe (Dartmouth, N.S.), gave the visitors a 56-49 advantage.

Tyson Cato (Hamilton, ON) stopped the run with a three-pointer for the Capers, but Shamar Burrows (Nassau, Bahamas) answered with a hoop-and-harm three-point effort that made it 59-52.

The Capers got no closer.

For CBU, Omar led the way with 17 points, while Ruta scored nine and Callaghan and Bennett seven apiece.  

Burrows led the Tigers offense, who had four players in double figures, with 13 points, while completing the double-double with 10 rebounds, and added four assists.

Blommers finished with 12, while Christie and Ngala notched 11 apiece.

The teams will be back on the court Saturday night on the CBU campus.

Game time is 8 p.m.