Ben Matchett, Calgary Asst. Athletic Director, Operations & Communications
HALIFAX, N.S. - The University of Calgary Dinos stuck right with the six-time defending national champions through three quarters but fell 85-69 in the first quarter-final of the U SPORTS Final 8 Thursday afternoon at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
Trailing by just five - 62-57 - heading into the fourth quarter, the Dinos had momentum and looked poised for a great finish, but the six-time defending national champions went on an 11-0 run in the middle third of the final frame to advance to the national semifinal round Saturday.
"We were right there with them for most of the game, with just a couple of defensive lapses - one in the first quarter and one in the fourth," said Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren. "I'm proud of our effort today."
The score was tight through most of the first quarter, with a Jasdeep Gill free throw tying the score at 14-14 with just over two minutes to play. The Ravens embarked on a 15-1 run spanning the next five minutes of game time, however, and the lead stretch to 14 as the Dinos were forced to play from behind.
Calgary won the second and third quarters - even with a miracle buzzer-beating three from Carleton's Emmanuel Owootoah to end the first half - to cut the lead to five heading into the fourth.
As they do, the Ravens shot exceptionally and often from long range, taking 35 threes and cashing 14 of them. Carleton easily won the rebounding battle by a 48-24 margin over Calgary, including 17 offensive boards that turned into 16 second-chance points.
The Dinos, playing with just eight players due to injury, rode the starting five of David Kapinga, Mambi Diawara, Thomas Cooer, Jhony Verrone, and Mitch Ligertwood for 168 of the combined 200 available. Ligertwood had just one forward behind him - Connor Foreman - as the Dinos played without fifth-year Dallas Karch, former all-star Lars Schlueter, and freshman Jeff Rodehutskors, all injured.
Cooper earned player-of-the-game honours for the Dinos a day after receiving first team All-Canadian status for the second straight year. The Dinos' offensive catalyst scored 17 points and hauled in six rebounds, leading the Dinos in both categories. Diawara added 15 points, while Kapinga put up 11.
Owootoah joined U SPORTS player of the year Connor Wood and Kaza Kajami-Keane with 16 points each to lead the way for Carleton, with Eddie Ekiyor and Cam Smythe also reaching double digits with 10 each.
The Dinos played tenacious defence for much of the contest, turning the ball over 21 times to score 20 points, and held a significant advantage at the free throw line with 28 trips compared to the Ravens' seven.
Now on the consolation side of the draw, the Dinos will face the loser of the McGill-Manitoba quarter-final in a consolation semifinal Friday night at 6 p.m. local / 3 p.m. MT.
"Not many teams have the chance to win their last game of the season, so that's our focus now," said Vanhooren. "These are program-building games, and we're going to work hard to win the consolation side."