By Tommy Osborne, March 7 2017 —
The University of Calgary Dinos men’s basketball team fell 72–74 to the University of Manitoba Bisons in a heartbreaking upset on March. 3. Despite keeping the game close until the final minutes, the Dinos couldn’t pull off the win.
After the surprise upset, the Dinos continued the Final Four series in a game against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies on March 4. A 111–106 win over the Huskies gave Calgary the Canada West bronze medal. After earning a position in the Final 8 as national wild cards, the Dinos will play the University of Carleton Ravens in the U Sports championships in Halifax on March 9.
The first quarter started off slowly, as both teams struggled to create any offensive production. It was an offensive mess for the Dinos, as no player made more than one shot the entire quarter. Canada West first team all-star Thomas Cooper was 1–6 from the field.
The Dinos defence helped compensate for the offensive shortcomings, making life difficult for the Bisons by forcing them to take shots from poor angles and disrupting passing lanes. By the end of the first, the Dinos were only down 12–16.
Entering the second quarter, the Dinos were looking to rebound from an ugly start. But the shooting continued to be disappointing, as the players had to endure watching their shots rattle in and out of the rim a countless number of times. Fortunately, the Dinos defence remained as vicious as ever, keeping the Dinos in it and bringing the score to 30–30 by the half.
The third quarter mirrored the first half, as it was full of Dinos misses. With 2:35 left in the quarter, the Dinos were given a spark off of a Dallas Karch slam dunk, followed by a Cooper jumper created from a steal by Karch. The third quarter was back and forth, as both teams traded blows in their best efforts to get the better of their opponent. The third quarter ended in a 53–53 tie, promising an excitement-packed fourth quarter. Unfortunately, this momentum was halted by a Manitoba timeout and an injury to Karch’s leg early in the fourth quarter.
With the Dinos and Bisons scrapping for every point, the crowd cheered on the Dinos in the fourth. With 13 seconds left on the clock, the Dinos had possession and a chance to win or tie the game, with the score at 72–74 for the Bisons. However, the Dinos’ best effort wasn’t enough, as Cooper and guard Mambi Diawara were unable to get their game-tying shots to connect. The last 13 seconds was a microcosm of the whole game, as both Cooper (6–24) and Diawara (1–9) struggled to land their final shots.
Following the tragic end to the game, head coach Dan Vanhooren could be seen consoling Cooper and Diawara, both visibly upset about the loss. Vanhooren say he felt the Dinos were in a position to win, but couldn’t capitalize.
“We did a really good job, we played well enough to win the basketball game,” he said. “We just didn’t win it, because we didn’t shoot the ball well enough ourselves.”
Despite the loss, Vanhooren had nothing but good things to say about his team.
“We do have fighters, we have competitors and they want to win basketball games and want to be successful. They’ve always been that way,” he said “They showed character today, and they will continue to show character next year and even tomorrow.”
Third-year guard David Kapinga stood out from the rest of the pack, as has been the case throughout the Dinos’ playoff run. On a night where the Dinos struggled to shoot, Kapinga went 6–10 for 13 points. He also notched three steals, one block, two assists and two turnovers. Kapinga credited his individual success to his teammates.
“I think it helps to have really good teammates. They’re really good, so teams pay a lot of attention to them, and once that happens I’m more open so my shots are more open than theirs,” he said. “I would like to thank my teammates for creating the shots for me.”
Vanhooren was impressed with Kapinga’s night, although he wasn’t surprised.
“I’m not shocked by it, David is an all-star level guy, and he played well enough.” he said. “He’s a great player for us and he will continue to be a great player for our program, and he’s a great representative for us.”
The Dinos played the University of Saskatchewan Huskies for Canada West bronze on March 4. Despite pushing the game into overtime, the Dinos came out on top 111–106.
Due to their strong placement throughout the season, Calgary earned the wild card position in the Top 8 Championships, to take place in Halifax.
The Dinos will face last year’s CIS finals foe, the University of Carleton Ravens, for a position in the tournament. The game will be a rematch between last year’s two best basketball teams in the country.
The game against Carleton takes place at 9:00 a.m. MST on March 9. It will be streamed live on the Dinos’ website.