Cougars storm back from 20-point deficit for 82-81 win over No. 5 Calgary

Cougars storm back from 20-point deficit for 82-81 win over No. 5 Calgary

(By University of Regina Sports Information)

REGINA, Sask. – The University of Regina's men's basketball team trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half, but the Cougars came all the way back to upset No. 5-ranked Calgary 82-81 on Saturday night in a Canada West classic at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.

The Cougars took a one-point lead with nine seconds to go when Brian Ofori shovelled a pass down low to Johneil Johnson, who laid it up and in. Calgary had one last chance to win, but a tough contested jumper from the lane by Thomas Cooper hit back iron and Regina was able to hang on for the win.

"We hadn't shown the ability in the past to overcome adversity like this, but I'm certainly happy with how we responded after going down by 20," Cougars head coach Steve Burrows said. "That's an exceptional team over there, and I'm extremely happy for our guys that they were rewarded for how much toughness they showed down late in this one."

The win was huge for the Cougars, who snap a six-game losing skid and improve their Canada West record to 7-9 on the season as they try to nail down a playoff berth for the second consecutive season. It was the first road loss of the season for Calgary, which had entered the contest with a perfect 6-0 record away from home.

Brandon Tull had a fine game for the Cougars, going 8-for-11 and tying for the game lead with 20 points. Four other U of R players hit double figures in scoring, including Johnson with 16, Ofori with 14, and Samuel Hillis and Travis Sylvestre with 10. Ofori was a force in the win, also leading the team in rebounds (8), assists (6), and steals (3).

Cooper finished with 20 points for Calgary (12-4) and also led the Dinos with seven rebounds. David Kapinga added 12 points, while Mambi Diawara scored 11 and Matt Ellis was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor and pitched in with 10 points.

After Calgary's convincing win on Friday, the Cougars showed a significantly higher compete level in the early going of Saturday's game. The Dinos took a 15-13 lead after the first quarter, but started to take over in the second. Calgary took its first double-digit advantage in the late going of the second, and took a 38-26 lead into the halftime break after a Matt Ellis layup at the buzzer.

Calgary's 20-point lead in the third came after a strong 15-4 run put the visitors up by a 60-40 margin with just under four minutes to go, but the Cougars quickly responded with eight straight points to set the tone for the fourth.

In the final period, the Cougars slowly chipped away at the lead and pulled ahead with a 12-3 run capped by a three-point play by Brandon Tull with two minutes to go. The teams traded leads four more times after that, including Johnson's layup with nine seconds to go that turned out to be the deciding bucket.

The Cougars will now prepare for two road games at Winnipeg (10-6) next weekend, while Calgary continues a four-game road stretch with a pair of games at Thompson Rivers (8-8).

NOTES: The last time the Cougars beat a team ranked as high as No. 5 was back on Jan. 26, 2013 when they scored a 76-75 win over No. 4 Alberta.