Peter James, UNBC Communications
PRINCE GEORGE - Mambi Diwara scored 38 points as the University of Calgary Dinos used a late surge to defeat the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves 69-53 on Friday night at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.
An 18-2 run by the visitors over the final eight minutes broke open a tight contest and allowed the Dinos to open the Canada West regular season with a victory.
"That was a great win," Diwara said. "The Timberwolves came out tonight competing and the game was close down the stretch until the final minutes. We stayed composed and things went our way."
The Timberwolves trailed 32-26 at the half, but kept pace with the Dinos through the third quarter and early into the fourth, twice drawing even, but never be able to get ahead. Calgary poured it on late, while the Timberwolves only managed six fourth-quarter points.
"They tightened the screws on us defensively," UNBC coach Todd Jordan said. "We had trouble at times creating chances and that caused us some trouble."
The Timberwolves shot 40 per cent from the floor and 50 per cent from the free throw line, mustering only five points from the charity stripe. The Dinos, meanwhile, shot 48 per cent from the floor and made 16 of their 20 free-throw attempts.
The Timberwolves were buoyed by a pair of returning veterans. Daniel Stark scored a team-high 11, as he returned to the program after last playing in 2014. Nolan Hanson, who missed last season due to injury added five points. Marcus MacKay scored 10.
"It feels good to be back," Stark said. "The Northern Sport Centre is like a home away from home. It's something I've been missing the past three years."
In a back-and-forth first half the lead changed four times, with UNBC leading by as much as five, while the Dinos biggest advantage was seven points.
Jordan said the tight game bodes well for the Timberwolves chances in Saturday's rematch.
"I think tomorrow if we come back and execute, we can give ourselves a solid chance to win," Jordan said.
The teams complete the weekend series on Saturday at the Northern Sport Centre. Game time is 7 p.m.