Ian Gustafson; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The University of Calgary Dinos continued their dream season Saturday afternoon, winning their third Canada West men's basketball championship in four years with a 90-75 win over the UBC Thunderbirds.
In front of a packed, electric Jack Simpson Gymnasium, the Dinos ramped up their defensive pressure and jumped out to a 12-point lead after 10 minutes and fended off several Thunderbird comeback efforts to win the seventh Canada West and eighth conference title overall in school history.
Calgary (25-0) and UBC (21-7) will both head east to Halifax for next week's U SPORTS Final 8 championship, with the Dinos looking to defend their national title.
The Dinos jumped out to a quick 12-6 lead early in the first quarter and didn't hold back heading into the second quarter with a 23-11 lead thanks in large part to a 7-for-7 start by big man Brett Layton.
The Thunderbirds pushed back in the second quarter getting within 11 points but the Dinos were too much for the Thunderbirds to go into halftime with a 48 -34 lead.
Calgary increased their lead in the third quarter with an explosive offensive performance including a big Lucas Mannes three. The Dinos went into the final frame with a 73–55 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Dinos continued their scoring ways. Mambi Diawara made a big play late in the fourth with a big dunk and a charge on the defensive end.
Head coach Dan Vanhooren couldn't be more proud of his team.
"They're a great bunch and they definitely deserve what they've achieved," said Vanhooren, the 2019 Canada West coach of the year. "They've worked so hard. They're easy to coach now before I had a lot more coaching to do and right now I just enjoying watching them play."
Layton led the team with 20 points and five rebounds, despite running into early foul trouple and playing just 12 minutes. Diawara, named this week the Canada West player of the year in 2019, had a quiet night offensively but still managed an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double, adding four assists and four steals to his stat line.
Mason Foreman had a big night off the bench scoring 12 points and nine rebounds. David Kapinga scored 19 points and five rebounds on 7-of-17 shooting. He also came back soon after going down with an injury in the fourth quarter.
"David is David, he is going to come out and give you everything," said Vanhooren. "He always plays hard, he's our leader, and hopefully he'll be able to do that going forward."
Manroop Clair had a great outing for UBC, shooting 7-of-14 from beyond the arc to finish with a team-high 25 points. Jadon Cohee was right behind him with 21 points of his own. Grant Shepard nearly finished with a double-double scoring nine points and 11 rebounds.
NOTES: It is the 151st conference championship in University of Calgary history and the third in 2018-19, joining women's rugby and men's cross country … since Vanhooren and UBC head coach Kevin Hanson took over their programs in 2000, the Dinos and Thunderbirds have each captured five conference titles … the Dinos are the first team to repeat as conference champs since UBC (2006, 2007) and the first to win three of four since Victoria (1995, 1997, 1998) …
Photo by David Moll