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Courtesy David Moll

Dinos men’s basketball claim Canada West championship

By Grant Jackson, March 12 2016 —

The Dinos men’s basketball team are the 2016 Canada West Champions.

The University of Calgary club won the title in dramatic fashion, beating the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack by a score of 91–84 in what proved to be a very close affair.

The match started quickly for Thompson Rivers, with big man Josh Wolfram making two quick threes to put the WolfPack up 14–5 early. But the Dinos rallied back to tie the game, benefitting from excellent three-point shooting — a trend that continued all night long.

Calgary heated up from outside as the game progressed, as solid contributions from Jasdeep Gill and Mitch Ligertwood off the bench managed to put the Dinos out front. Gill scored 11 points, providing numerous momentum-building threes, while Ligertwood chipped in with 12 points and six rebounds.

Courtesy David Moll

Courtesy David Moll

The Dinos’ first half dominance was punctuated by a sequence late in the second quarter when they stole the ball on back-to-back possessions to score some easy points, forcing Thompson Rivers head coach Scott Clark to call a timeout.

The U of C spent the rest of the second quarter consistently burning Thompson Rivers on back-door cuts, leading to more easy baskets. When the first half expired, the Dinos led by a strong margin of 53–40.

Thompson Rivers came out hot in the third quarter, however, quickly closing the gap via strong play from Gerard Gore — who scored 22 points overall — and Volodymyr Iegorov.

Dinos guard and Canada West MVP Thomas Cooper set the tone for the Dinos throughout the contest, continuing his excellent season. Cooper got to the rim at will during the Dinos’ victory, scoring a game-high 24 points — including a perfect nine-for-nine from the free-throw line.

Cooper was emotional when asked what his coach’s support meant to him as an athlete.

“Everything,” Cooper said. “I’m holding back tears.”

The Dinos held on to their lead for an emotional victory. It was an especially important night for fifth-year players and team co-captains Matt Letkeman and Josh Owen-Thomas, both of whom have provided a steady veteran presence for the Dinos since the start of the season.

“I’m so thankful. I’m so blessed,” Letkeman said after the win. “I’m so proud of everyone of these guys. Every man stepped up.”

After winning the Canada West, the Dinos advance to the CIS Final Eight. They’ll begin the CIS Championship tournament on March 17 in Vancouver.

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