It wouldn't be an international tournament for Canada without a scare against an under-scouted, uber athletic team, would it?
The fate of the game came down to the last possession, as Senegal guard Clevin Hannah missed what would've been a game tying three at the final buzzer.
Cory Joseph was Canada's top scorer with 13 points, Melvin Ejim added 11 and eight rebounds while Tyler Ennis chipped in 12 points of his own.
Senegal came out guns a blazing right from tip off, using their size and speed to throw Canada off early with relentless offensive rebounding early on. Maurice Ndour led the charge with three blocks while also knocking down two quick three balls. Jay Triano decided to go with Joel Anthony (who was a DNP-CD yesterday) to counter the towers inside and it worked extremely well to close the quarter, as he chipped in 4 points including a tip in at the buzzer to give Canada a 22-20 lead.
As both teams shooting percentages dropped, so did the quality of play in the 2nd quarter. Canada did outscore Senegal 11-8, with a stronger emphasis on taking the ball hard into the paint and going right at the bodies of the Senegalese bigs.
After a disjointed third quarter for both sides as the whistle tightened up, the fourth quarter was much of the same until the three minute mark, when Senegal forward Maleye Ndoye knocked down a three to bring his team within one at 51-50. After layups from Joseph and Ennis, Ndour hit a three to make the score 55-53 and following an Anthony Bennett turnover swung the ball to Clevin Hannah for a wide-open go ahead three ball that fell off side rim.
Joseph hit three of four free throws down the stretch to seal the win and push Canada atop their group at 2-0.
Notes + Observations:
- Senegal out-rebounded the Canadians 53-46 (18-15 on the offensive end) and also tallied 8 blocks...Canada was stuck between a rock and a hard place as they needed a small ball 4 to keep up with the Senegalese in speed, but suffered without the size to compete on the glass.
- When Brady Heslip's shot isn't falling the quick hook should come out from him...he got wiped out on some screens too easily leading directly to open dunks.
- Tristan Thompson finished the game just 3/8 from the field while looking really uncomfortable trying to attack the front line of Senegal when he caught the ball at the top of the circle. As the tournament progresses look for Canada to use him more as a hard role man in screen action.
- Maurice Ndour is the Senegalese Manimal. He had a stellar final line of 16 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks while playing with an energetic bounce and reckless abandon. Had he not fouled out after his made three pointer the end of the game could very well of played out differently.