It was as ugly a basketball game as can be played. Senegal proving that hard work and effort can almost beat vastly superior talent especially when your team’s star player puts you on his back. The Toronto Raptors Cory Joseph scored 7 of Canada’s 11 fourth quarter points to hold onto the lead and eek out a 58-55 win despite the heroics of Senegal’s Maurice Ndour.
It was a bevy of turnovers, bad shots, ignored time clock violations, terrible defensive rebounding, bad offense and uncontrolled hustle by both teams that made this game the ugly affair that it most certainly was.
Senegal shot 25 percent on twos in this game and if they hadn’t unexpectedly hit on 9-29 three-point attempts, they would have struggled to crack single digits in any quarter.
Canada was beating themselves at the free throw line, missing 8 of their first 19 attempts until Joseph stepped up to hit 3-4 to preserve the victory in the final 11 seconds. Three-point shooting is a concern for Canada, but going just 2-17 almost sunk them. The usually reliable Brady Heslip going 0-5 and Philip Scrubb 0-4 from deep without much of an excuse for the bricklaying.
Joseph led Canada in scoring for the second game in a row with 13 points and an important 5-6 from the charity stripe. Tyler Ennis had 12 points, but was 2-6 from the free throw line and Tristan Thompson had 7 points and 10 boards while embarrassing himself from the line 1-4.
The star of this game was forward Maurice Ndour who played at Ohio in 2014-15 but went undrafted and played for Real Madrid last season. The 24-year-old Ndour put on a show with a game high 16 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. He hit on 4-8 three-point attempts and personally kept the score close.
Canada probably should have been better prepared for Ndour. In his final college season he averaged 16 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.1 blocks while shooting 43.5 percent from three-point range.
With the win Canada advances to the Semi-Finals on Saturday to play the second place team from Group B (t.b.d.). Fortunately no cares how you advance after you get there.