(HALIFAX, N.S.) The Dalhousie Tigers are AUS champions for the second-straight year and the fifth time in six seasons, as they defeated the StFX X-Men 76-64 in Sunday's Subway AUS Men's Basketball Championship final at the Scotiabank Centre.
Dalhousie's AUS first team all-star Alex Carson led the way for the Tigers, scoring 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field, including 4-of-9 from deep. Carson was also named championship MVP for his performance over the weekend.
The X-Men were led by their AUS rookie of the year and second team all-star Avan Nava's 18 points, five rebounds and five assists.
AUS MVP and first team all-star Keevan Veinot was named Subway Player of the Game as he flirted with a triple double, recording 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
The Tigers jumped out to a quick 14-3 lead in the first quarter fueled by their starters Sascha Kappos, Veinot, and Carson who combined for 20 of Dalhousie's 24 first quarter points.
StFX struggled with turnovers in the first quarter, committing six in the opening 10 minutes en route to 13 Dalhousie points off turnovers, and a 24-16 Tiger lead after the opening frame.
The X-Men made their push in the second quarter, limiting Dalhousie to four points through the first six minutes of the quarter, while scoring 12 of their own over the same stretch.
Kappos knocked down a triple to stop the bleeding, scoring the Tigers' first points in almost four minutes of play, and extending the lead back to five at 31-26 with just over three to play in the half, and then closing the half out with a 33-32 lead.
Kappos led all scorers at the break with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-4 from deep, with five rebounds.
StFX was led by Nava's 11 points (3-of-6 from the field) to go along with four assists, three rebounds and two steals.
The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair until the last four minutes when the Tigers used a 15-8 run to close out the quarter, pushing their lead back to six points heading into the final ten minutes.
Carson, Kappos and Veinot continued to lead Dalhousie with 14, 14, and 12 points respectively, on a combined 13-of-23 from the field. Veinot also had eight assists, six rebounds and two steals through three quarters.
Nava led StFX heading into the fourth with 15 points on 5-of-10 from the field to go with five assists, three rebounds and two steals.
The X-Men's fourth-year forward Azara Roker was huge on the glass through the first 30 minutes, recording 10 points and nine rebounds, helping the X-Men stay within reach.
Carson came up big in the fourth for the Tigers, knocking down two important threes and putting back an offensive rebound to push Dalhousie's lead to 10 under four minutes to play.
StFX's comeback bid was stymied as they committed four crucial turnovers down the stretch that allowed the Tigers to wrap up the win.
Tournament all-stars for the men's event were UNB's Marcus Masters, StFX's Nava and Roker, and Dalhousie's Carson and Veinot.
Dalhousie will move on to represent the AUS at the U SPORTS Final 8 Men's Basketball Championship in Ottawa March 5-8.