Lance Doucet; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – A 30-point opening quarter by the University of Regina Cougars paved the way to an 82-65 win to wrap up their Canada West semifinal series with the Calgary Dinos at the Jack Simpson Gym.
Despite having their biggest offensive weapon Kyanna Giles shutdown in the series opener, the Cougars found a way to take Game 1 with secondary scoring pulling through. In Game 2, it was a different story with the 2017 U SPORTS Rookie of the Year exploding for 27 points on Saturday night.
Regina will now head to Saskatoon to face the Saskatchewan Huskies in next week's Canada West championship game. Both the Cougars and Huskies will represent Canada West at the U SPORTS Final 8 March 8-10 at Ryerson University in Toronto.
The Dinos had no answers for the Cougars, who shot 40.6 percent on field goals and outrebounded the home team 57-41.
"It is hard to pin-point anything specifically except for Regina was clinical and we were not," said Dinos head coach Damian Jennings. "The game got away from us quickly. Regina made a ton of shots and we did not."
After falling behind by 18 points at the end of one quarter, the Dinos never led in the match. Second-year guard Katie Upham collected 15 points in Game 2 as she came off the bench and led the team in scoring during the series.
The Cougars will face their provincial rivals in the Canada West Final, hosted by the Saskatchewan Huskies in Saskatoon on Friday, Mar. 1.
As they tried to climb out from their first quarter hole, the Dinos had their best offensive quarter in the second as they outscored Regina 23-15. Two minutes into the quarter, Sascha Lichtenwald gave the Dinos a spark with a fast break to the bucket to draw a foul, followed shortly after by a big three-pointer. Calgary cut the deficit to three with six minutes to play in the half, but Carolina Goncalves helped Regina push their lead back up to 10 at the break, scoring four points in the final minutes before heading to the locker room.
"Basketball is a game of runs, and when you are at this level of game where both teams are talents – but perhaps one team is being more clinical – you are not going to get many crazy runs," said Jennings.
"I was pleased that we did not quit and were able to get back in there, but I think the damage had been done."
Solid shooting and a couple of late three pointers kept the Dinos close in the third quarter, but the Cougars asserted themselves in the fourth. Regina outscored Calgary 21-12 in the final quarter, booking their ticket to the conference final and a spot at the U SPORTS Final 8 in Toronto.
The Dinos will now play the waiting game with one at-large berth available at the national tournament. If not, Calgary will have the chance to return its entire roster next fall – a team that went 17-3 without a fifth-year player.
"We can be proud of this relatively young group and how they represented the university. We probably just lost to the best team in the country," noted Jennings.
Photo by David Moll