The Dalhousie Tigers climbed on the back of Ritchie Kanza Mata and the five-foot-eleven fourth-year guard carried his team to an upset of the no. 3 seeded Gee-Gees in the CIS Final 8 quarterfinal round on Thursday at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Athletic Centre in Vancouver, B.C.
Kanza Mata scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including two circus buckets which he got to fall on successive possessions after driving the hoop hard in the face of tough defence from Brandon Robinson. Kanza Mata, an AUS First Team All-Star then drew a foul on Caleb Agada using the same move to the right, hitting both free throws to put the Tigers in front for good, 85-81.
The teams were tied at 73-73 midway through the fourth quarter after Ottawa looked in solid position through the third quarter. Brody Maracle was superb for the garnet and grey, shooting 7-for-9 from the field and leading the charge as Ottawa built a ten-point lead late in the third.
Heading into the fourth, Ottawa had shot 12-for-28 from long distance with five coming from the hands of Matt Plunkett. The Gee-Gees were shut down in the fourth, scoring just 13 points with none of their seven three-point attempts on the mark.
Free throw shooting was a key advantage for the Tigers, who went to the line 24 times and converted 16 points there while the Gee-Gees made just four trips. Kanza Mata went 7-8 from the stripe and finished the game with 24 points.
“We shot the lights out in the first half and I think that gave us a little bit of a false sense of success despite the fact that our defence was not great. The defence continued to struggle, especially on containment,” explained Gee-Gees head coach James Derouin.
“Their pressure defence gave us all kinds of fits. We knew that was coming. We prepared for it, we worked for it. But credit to them, especially Ritchie. He put his shoulder down and jumped into the defence. As aggressive as they played defensively, we shot ten free throws. That’s a sign to me that we weren’t low and we weren’t trying to counter their aggression with aggression. We didn’t handle it like the veteran group that we have and like we should have.”
The Dalhousie defence pressured Ottawa into 24 turnovers – a season high and ten more than the team’s average.
Mike L’Africain led the Gee-Gees with 16 points and seven assists.
The Gee-Gees will continue the national tournament on the consolation side of the bracket, facing the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack on Friday at 5 p.m. (8 ET). The game will be webcast on cis-sic.tv.