The Dalhousie Tigers are all but forgotten as a national contender, but they quietly reasserted themselves last night.
The Tigers, who didn’t get a single vote in this week’s national ranking, beat the Saint Mary’s Huskies 69-63 in Atlantic University Sport men’s basketball action at Dalplex. It was their most notable victory since November.
With only three games left in the regular season, the Tigers — who have bobbled around the bottom of the national ranking all season — are hoping the win is a turning point.
“We’re still a pretty good team,” said Tigers forward Germain Bendegue. “We’ve lost some games, but as a team, we have to believe we’re good, and we do. Rankings don’t mean anything. We know what we are and that’s what’s important.”
Bendegue, a six-foot-six forward in his fifth season, had a 19-point, 14-rebound effort as the Tigers beat their south-end rival for the first time in two full years. Third-year guard Simon Farine added 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
The Tigers led by just one point at halftime, but went on a 12-0 run in the third quarter to get separation on the Huskies. Farine drained 10 of his points in that frame and the Huskies
didn’t come closer than four points the rest of the way.
Joey Haywood was just about the only bright spot for the third-place Huskies (11-7) with a game-high 28 points.
Third-place Dal is 10-7, but has been inconsistent, particularly in the second half. The six-foot-three Farine described the Tigers’ problems as “a whole bunch of everything.”
“We weren’t executing well, we were turning the ball over too much, and playing too soft,” said Farine, who averages 17.7 points per game. “SMU’s a physical team and we matched them blow for blow. Beating them gets us back on track.”
If the Tigers really want to get back on the national radar, keeping things rolling against first-place St. Francis Xavier on Sunday in Antigonish would help. So would beating the Huskies in the final game of the season on Feb. 28.
“Hopefully, we can build off this,” said Farine. “We want to get a win at X and keep it going in the playoffs.”