Late game heroics lead Bears over Dinos in thriller

Late game heroics lead Bears over Dinos in thriller

Lucas Meyer, Dinos Communications Assistant

CALGARY - In an instant classic between the University of Calgary Dinos and their long-time provincial rivals, it was Austin Waddoups of Alberta playing the hero for the Golden Bears as they won 81-80. 

In his first year with Alberta, Waddoups hit a long-jumper with Dinos star Thomas Cooper in his face with six seconds left, which turned out to be the game-winning shot. 

"I just needed to be patient and get my teammates involved, but I know when I need to step up and make that last shot, I'm glad I did," he said. 

The victory is a big one for Alberta, who had their 10-game winning streak snapped on Thursday night by Calgary up in Edmonton, as the Dinos won 69-60.

Like their first meeting, the match was close from the start, as a Waddoups three cut the Alberta deficit to just 22-21 to end the first quarter. In the second quarter, Dinos wingman Mambi Diawara threw down a massive dunk to excite the crowd, but Golden Bears guard Geoff Pippus scored five straight points to give the visitors a 34-26 lead. 

Then Calgary took over. 

Sparked by team defense, the Dinos got hot from beyond the arc, with fifth-year senior Jasdeep Gill firing from downtown hitting three straight three-point shots. Calgary went on an 18-0 run to take back the lead 45-37 and led at halftime 47-44. The close play continued in the third quarter, as Waddoups and all-star Mamadou Gueye led the way for Alberta, while holding U Sports leading scorer Cooper in check. But Cooper would hit four free throws to end the third, while Jhony Verrone hit a jumper to make it a 66-60 Dinos lead going into the fourth. 

The start of the final quarter was a strong one for Alberta, as Gueye free throws cut the deficit to just 67-66. Calgary took control back with Cooper hitting a three to make it 73-67 with just over five minutes remaining. However, the Golden Bears refused to go away, with Brody Clarke making two free throws with 56 seconds left to take a one-point lead at 79-78. A missed Lars Schlueter three gave Alberta the ball back with 37 seconds and the lead, but then disaster struck as Cooper intercepted a pass and brought it back down the court for a dunk to make it 80-79. Then Waddoups, who had just seven points on 1-6 shooting Thursday, made Alberta's biggest play of the year. 

Gueye drove the ball on the left side and kicked it out to Waddoups in the corner, but Cooper closed in, forcing him to take one dribble to his right. He picked up the ball and with Cooper in his face, knocked down the long two to give Alberta the 81-80 lead and put his finger to his mouth to silence the crowd. 

"It was just the backyard practice shots right there," Waddoups said. "I had that little twist of my body at the end there to get it over Cooper and it went in."

Calgary still had six seconds left to get a shot and it ended up in the hands of Gill for the game-winning three, but it went off the rim as Alberta celebrated the victory. Waddoups finished with 19 points, while Gueye had 22 points, Clarke had 13 and Pippus added 13 off the bench. 

"We know this win was huge, we knew this series was going to be tough, Calgary's a great team and we've been looking forward to this game all season," he said.

After a game-high 24 on Thursday, Cooper faced double teams throughout the game, finishing with 14 on 3-11 shooting. Gill was the only other Dino in double-figures with 14. 

Despite 28 turnovers which led to 35 Dinos points, Alberta outrebounded Calgary 39-27 and after just 10 free throw attempts two nights ago, were a much more aggressive 19-23 from the charity stripe. 

While Alberta improves to 11-1, Calgary goes down to 9-2, with both losses coming at home. The victory is a long time coming for Alberta, who lost to Calgary five times last year in exhibition, regular and playoff action. 

The Dinos host UFV on Thursday and Friday, while Alberta's tough second half schedule continues as they visit UBC next weekend.