Lucas Meyer, Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The fifth-ranked University of Calgary Dinos took a decisive win Thursday night, opening their best-of-three Canada West semifinal series with a 98-71 victory over the No. 4 UBC Thunderbirds in the Jack Simpson Gym.
The Dinos are now one win away from securing a spot in the U SPORTS Final 8 tournament, as well as the Canada West championship game.
Calgary was led by point guard David Kapinga, who earlier on Thursday was named a third-team conference all-star. The fourth-year forward finished with 28 points on 12-19 shooting, with four steals and four rebounds.
"[Coach] Dan [Vanhooren] and I have been working on it every day," he said about his shot, after going 3-5 from downtown.
It certainly didn't look like a blowout early on, with the Thunderbirds getting hot in the first, especially from three-point territory. UBC went 6-for-10 from downtown and finished the first quarter up 26-17. Calgary returned the favour in the second quarter, winning the frame 28-16 to take a three-point lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Dinos didn't look back, starting the third on a 13-0 run, led by all-stars Kapinga and Mambi Diawara, who made the conference's first-team. They would win the quarter 28-13 and continue the onslaught in the fourth, with their largest lead hitting 33 points.
After the poor first quarter, Calgary outscored UBC - who averaged 94 points per game in the regular season - 81-45.
The Dinos outperformed in every aspect of the game by being aggressive at both ends. Calgary scored 26 points off 26 UBC turnovers, while only committing 14 themselves and outscoring the taller Thunderbirds in the paint 56-34. Calgary also had 23 offensive rebounds and went 15-22 from the free-throw line to UBC's 9-10.
Along with Kapinga's big night, Diawara finished with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Connor Foreman and Andrew Milner also hit double figures with 10 each.
As for UBC, they were led in scoring by rookie Anthony McNish off the bench with 19, while reigning MVP and first-team all-star Conor Morgan had a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double.
In the regular season, Calgary beat UBC by scores of 100-76 and 92-74.
The Dinos have a chance to sweep Friday night, while UBC will try to force a Game 3 on Saturday. The winner will play the winner of the Alberta-Lethbridge series going on in Edmonton.
Game time Friday is 8 p.m. at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium, with live streaming on CanadaWest.tv
Photo by David Moll