Ben Matchett, Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The University of Calgary Dinos caught fire midway through the first quarter and led by as many as 44 before a vanilla fourth quarter to take a 98-73 win over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Friday night in Game 1 of their best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series.
The fifth-ranked Dinos (17-4) will meet the Huskies again Saturday night in Game 2 looking to book a spot in the conference semifinal next weekend.
It started out as a back-and-forth affair, with all six of the game's lead changes coming in the first five minutes of the contest. But a 10-2 run by the Dinos in just 94 seconds of game time put the home side on top for good, and the Dinos put up 10-0 and 13-0 runs before the end of the half to take a 30-point lead into the half.
Lars Schlueter was a key cog in the Dinos' offensive outburst, hitting his first three field goals to pick up eight points in the first quarter, while Mambi Diawara put down a thunderous dunk late in the second to punctuate his 13 points in the opening 20 minutes. His stat line at the end of the night was impressive: 22 minutes played, 23 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field, nine rebounds, and six assists.
"Mambi was…terrific tonight," said Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren. "You can't ask for much more from one of your leading players. I thought he was unbelievable.
"I was pleased with how we played the game," Vanhooren went on. "Our starting group and our top 10 guys played very well through two and a half quarters. I was disappointed with the fourth quarter from our bench – they shouldn't turn the ball over that much, and we know we can complete a game better than we did. Overall for a playoff game to be able to play a number of guys, it was a great game for us."
The Huskies were much better in the second half than the first, scoring 49 of their 73 points after the break. JT Robinson scored all but three of his team-high 21 points in the second half as Saskatchewan put on the pressure, especially in the fourth quarter in which they out-scored the Dinos by a 25-12 margin. Lawrence Moore added 19 points for Saskatchewan, with Alex Unruh picking up 11.
For the Dinos, Mason Foreman finished the night with 17 points behind Diawara's 23, with Schlueter adding 13 while David Kapinga and Connor Foreman each picked up 11. Rookie guard Andrew Milner led Calgary with 24 minutes as all 12 Dinos players saw at least a dozen minutes on the floor.
Calgary won the rebounding battle by a significant 40-26 margin and shot the bell through most of the contest, with each of the first three quarters over 50 per cent en route to a 55.6 per cent evening overall.
Tip-off for Game 2 is set for 7 p.m. Saturday night in the Jack Simpson Gym, with live coverage on CanadaWest.tv.
Photo by David Moll