The Dinos men's basketball team is going to the Canada West Final Four after winning their weekend series with the University of Alberta Golden Bears two games to one Feb. 26-28.
"Our defence was phenomenal," said Head Coach Dan Vanhooren. "That's what won the games."
Friday's game was the team's only loss, ending in a 74-64 defeat. Poor shooting was the main factor, as the Dinos made only 35 per cent of their field goals and were 15 per cent from the three-point line.
"Numerically it was probably our worst game [this season]," said forward Ian Ferguson.
"The teams know each other well," explained Vanhooren. "For one team to dominate would be a stretch."
Fortunately, the Dinos returned unfazed by Friday's disaster to win 70-58 Saturday night before a sold-out crowd of almost 3,000--an appreciated vote of confidence for the team.
The fans returned Sunday to witness the 67-53 victory which left the Dinos in first place and earned them the top seed at the Final Four in Brandon, Manitoba Mar. 5-6.
The U of A also advanced to the Final Four as the wild card and are seeded second despite losing their division series. Vanhooren noted that at the end of Saturday's game, the two teams were even in points for and against, attesting to the close competition between the Bears and the Dinos all year. The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds also qualified for the Final Four and neither they nor the Bobcats were ranked nationally before the playoffs began.
The top three teams in Canada West will advance to the Canadian Interuniversity Sports Men's Basketball Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia Mar. 18-21, which means the Dinos only need to win one of their two weekend matches to qualify.
"Our only problem is that we can't use Friday night to experiment," joked forward Chris Wright. "[But] we know what to expect, we can beat them."
In the lead up to the Final Four, Dinos fifth-year star John Riad was honoured as a Canada West First Team All Star. Riad also sits third in all time Dinos scoring.