Eoin Colquhoun, Pronghorn Athletics
Lethbridge - Following a close opening half, the Lethbridge Pronghorns couldn't match to scoring prowess of the third ranked Calgary Dinos in the second half and dropped the front half of a home-and-home series, 95-71.
The defending Canada West Champion Dinos scored 57 second half points and kept the 'Horns offence off balance for most of the night with their relentless defensive pressure. The 'Horns turned the ball over 26 times
The 'Horns suffer their first loss at home and fall to 4-3 on the season. The Dinos, who had a bye last week, improve to 4-1.
Elliott Sentance led all scorers with 21 points in the loss and completed the double-double with 10 rebounds. Will Hickey came off the bench to give the 'Horns 13 points. Canada West leading scorer Thomas Cooper scored a team high 19 points but it was the balanced Dino attack that led the way as all 12 Dinos scored at least three points on the night.
In a match-up of two teams that like to run and gun, the opening quarter was the exacted opposite of what was expected, low scoring and filled with turnovers and missed shots but the Dinos held a 10-7 lead after 10 minutes. The Dinos did it with stifling defence and forced the 'Horns into nine first quarter turnovers, while the 'Horns forced the Dinos into tough shots.
The 'Horns were only 2-16 in the quarter for 12.5%, the Dinos were marginally better shooting 19% (4-21). However, the 'Horns did hold a 14-11 advantage in rebounding.
Coming out of the first break, the game that many expected showed some signs of being in the 1st Choice Savings Centre, as both the 'Horns and Dinos had moments where their offensive sets flowed better than the opening quarter. The 'Horns opened the second with a 14-6 run to take a five point lead only to see the Dinos go on a 12-0 run to regain the lead, their biggest in the have at seven points.
After combining for only 17 points in the opening quarter, the Dinos outscored the 'Horns 28-24 in the second and held a 38-31 lead at the recess.
Both teams shot the ball better in the second, with the 'Horns hitting 11-of-20 in the quarter and finished the half shooting 36%. The Dinos shot exactly 50% in the quarter (8-16) and went into the half time break shooting a more respectable 32.4%.
While both offences improved in the second quarter, both team's leading scorers had tough opening halves. Canada West leading scorer Thomas Cooper was held to a single point, while 'Horns leader Elliott Sentance only had four first half points.
In the third, the Dinos began to pull away, building a lead of as many as 16 points. After not making a three in the opening half, the Dinos hit their first five long range shots in the second to build their cushion. Outscoring the 'Horns 31-25 in the third, the Dinos were up 13 points with a quarter to play.
Following a Dino basket to open the fourth, the 'Horns hit back-to-back three pointers to cut the Dino lead back to single digits and gave the 'Horns some hope, but that would be as close as the they would get, as the Dinos heated up and the 'Horns went cold.
A Dino 12-2 run put any thought of the 'Horns comeback to rest and the Dinos cruised to the 24 point victory.
The back half of the home-and-home series will go Saturday night in Calgary at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium. Tip is set for 7:00pm.