By Tommy Osborne, January 13 2017 —
The Dinos men’s basketball team put on a show for University of Calgary fans at Pack the Jack on Jan. 12, forcing a dominant 106–68 victory over the University of Fraser Valley Cascades. The 38-point victory is the second largest margin of victory for the Dinos this season. Immediately following an impressive outing by the women’s team, the Dinos picked up where the women’s team left off by outplaying their opponents in a valiant second half effort.
The first quarter showcased what fans have come to expect from the Dinos. It was filled with impressive free-throws from fifth-year guard Thomas Cooper, a stifling defence that only allowed 13 points and speedy ball movement.
But the unexpected clutch performance of the night came from fourth-year guard Jhony Verrone. Verrone started the first quarter with four points, two rebounds and two steals. One of his steals led to a fastbreak where he carried the ball down the court for a dunk that made the crowd go crazy.
“I thought someone was gonna foul me, but I said I’m gonna go up strong no matter what and I dunked it,” Verrone said. “The posession before I got the ball and missed the layup, so I said to myself, ‘next one I gotta redeem myself no matter what’.”
Verrone continued his strong play throughout the night, polishing off UFV with 12 points — nearly triple his average — seven rebounds and three steals. He chose the perfect night for his breakout game, giving the home crowd what they came for with electric dunks and tenacity on defense.
Despite a strong first quarter where the Dinos led 24–13, the halftime score was 43–37, a game too close for comfort for last year’s national silver medallists. The Cascades nailed nine threes throughout the second quarter, bringing the score within 10 points of the U of C by halftime. Heading into the second half of the game, the Dinos fired back with the impressive chops that took them all the way to the national championship finals last season.
The U of C came out strong in the third quarter with the entire team putting up impressive shots. Third-year guard Mambi Diawara scored seven of his 15 points in the third and fifth-year forward Dallas Karch quietly amassed points. The Dinos’ talent and depth took over in the second half and it showed in the box score. Four Dinos players — Cooper, Diawara, Karch and Verrone — scored in the double digits. Third-years David Kapinga and Lars Schlueter were only one point away from hitting double digits.
“Our depth is a significant factor against anyone we play,” head coach Dan Vanhooren said. “When we bring our bench onto the floor, they’re capable of playing at a high level.”
The win keeps the Dinos within striking distance of the number one seed in the Canada West. With a 9–2 conference record, the team is currently third in the Canada West behind the 9–1 University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the 11–1 University of Alberta Golden Bears. As the Dinos prepare for their push for the top seed, Vanhooren stressed the impact of every game.
“Every game in the Canada West is important,” Vanhooren said. “By the end hopefully we’re in a good position to host some playoff games and have a good run.”
The Dinos swept the series by overcoming the Cascades again on Jan. 13 in a close 92–87 game. With the win, the Dinos improved their seasonal record to 16–2.