WBB: Cougars draw first blood in best-of-three

Lance Doucet; Dinos Communications

CALGARY - For the third time this season, the University of Regina Cougars took a win from the Jack Simpson Gym, defeating the Calgary Dinos 72-58 in Game 1 of their Canada West semifinal series on Thursday night.

With Kyanna Giles held to a minimal three points, the Cougars looked to other sources for offence and got it from Michaela Crone and Michaela Kleisinger, who posted 17 and 14 points respectively as the Cougars snapped the Dinos' 17-game win streak.

"We didn't pay attention to the records, we were focusing on us," said Crone after the game. "We know their personnel, we know their team. We need to outwork them, outwork their effort. They are a hard team, competitive, and they gave us a good run."

At the other end of the floor, the Dinos faced a similar problem, playing without the full services of Canada West second team all-star Erin McIntosh. Courtney Donaldson scored 13 points, while Katie Upham provided 12 and was the sparkplug for the team in their best moments.

"It was a really positive start and then as you can imagine Regina was going to come back and I think we made that job a little easy for them. That set the tone," said Dinos head coach Damian Jennings. "I think the players felt it would be made easy after that. A team as well coached and as intense as Regina isn't going to let that happen."

The series resumes on Friday night with a 6 p.m. tipoff at the Jack Simpson Gym.

The Dinos got off to a steady start on their home floor – somewhere they had been unbeaten since November. Quick points off the bench by Upham pushed Calgary's lead to seven halfway through the quarter, but the Cougars stormed back.

Faith Reid nailed two three-point attempts late in the opening quarter, which helped the Cougars take a four-point lead into the second. From there, Regina took control of the game, while Calgary's offence went cold. The Dinos shot 23.5 percent in the second while the Cougars had their best scoring quarter with 21 points.

The Dinos received a much-needed boost from their bench after the break with Upham and Donaldson providing it. Three minutes into the second half, Upham drained a deep three-pointer and followed up the play with a steal out of the hands of Kyanna Giles to setup an easy layup. The sequence seemed to spark Calgary, but Regina held their ground and replied minutes later with back-to-back three point plays.

"Katie was the one, that when we were playing more assertive, would get into the paint and caused problems for them," mentioned Jennings when asked about the second-year guard.

Donaldson and Upham combined for 14 of the 18 points scored by the Dinos in the third quarter.

Calgary worked the score down to 41-35 with six minutes to play in the fourth, but as they had all night, Regina countered with clutch shooting. The biggest daggers came in the form of a three-pointer by Carolina Goncalves and, less than a minute later, a layup that turned into a three-point play for Christina McCusker. It was enough to widen the gap and put the Dinos on their heels for the rest of the night.

"We rode a few moments and shots went down. Before you know it the margin of 12 gets bumped down to six and we just could not break it down there. The difference for me was assertiveness," explained Calgary's bench boss.

Regina now leads the best-of-three series 1-0 and is one win away from advancing to the Canada West Final while also securing a spot at the U SPORTS Final 8 in Toronto.


Photo by David Moll