The University of Calgary men's basketball team took giant strides forward this past weekend as they beat two of the best teams in the Canada West conference. On Fri. night, the Dinos took on a very tough University of Victoria Vikes team and won 64-62. Saturday night, the Dinos beat the number-three ranked UBC Thunderbirds 73-68 in an extremely exciting and entertaining game.
Though the defending pacific division champs Vikes played a very strong defensive game, the Dinos managed to take a 34-32 point lead at the half. The Vikes came back in the second half and the game went down the wire as the score was tied with 13 seconds left. The T-Birds missed a jump shot and star recruit Henry Bekkering got the rebound, ran the ball down the court and hit the jump shot with no time left on the clock for the win. That play, combined with a spectacular dunk off a set play and his game-high of 15 points gave him player of the game honours.
Ross Bekkering recorded his first of what probably will be many double-doubles this year with 10 rebounds and 11 points. Robbie Sihota had 15 points and Cody Darrah chipped in with 12.
Against the UBC T-Birds, the Dinos quickly found out why they are the number-three ranked team in the country. The T-Birds moved the ball around early on with a degree of efficiency rarely seen by a CIAU basketball team. Even though the Dinos came out firing and took an early six-point lead, the T-Birds quickly took over as Calgary's shooting ability became extremely poor. The T-Birds nearly pummelled the Dinos into submission, enjoying a comfortable 14-point lead and held Dino star Henry Bekkering pointless at the end of the first half. Their early dominance silenced what was a very noisy crowd and the game seemed as though it was out of reach for the Dinos.
"We walked in at half-time and we were all laughing because it was like, 'this is unbelievable,'" said Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren. "We've never done that before, ever, and after last night I was like, 'where are you guys? Like, what's going on? Are we tight?' And we tore up the stats sheet and threw it out and then we made a couple of adjustments and the kids battled."
Tearing up a stat sheet seemed to be exactly what they needed as the showtime Dinos came back and fought hard, bringing the crowd of over 2,000 strong on Pack the Jack night back into the game. As the crowd became louder, the Dinos seemed to feed off of the energy.
With just over 12 minutes remaining, the Dinos went on an incredible 22-9 run that tied the contest with a jump shot from Dino rookie Tyler Fidler. The Dinos took a 62-61 point lead once Fidler made the ensuing free throw. They didn't relinquish the lead and the crowd continued to roar for the rest of the game.
Dino point-guard Jeff Price led the charge and registered 15 points in the second half after having only two in the first and his efforts helped to shift the momentum of the game back to the Dinos. He also recorded five rebounds and three assists.
"He's a competitor and a winner," said Vanhooren. "He's won at every school he's played at and that's why we got him here and I think he brings that attitude. At some times during that game, our guys could have hung their heads, but instead they faced a stacked team with everything and battled back. I'm really proud of our kids tonight."
Ross Bekkering continued his strong start to the season as he was the Dinos' best player over the weekend and recorded another double-double with 14 rebounds and a game-high 20 points. He also had a few key dunks off rebounds and earned Dinos player of the game honours. Fidler had 16 points and Sihota rounded out the Dinos' scoring with 14.
"It was a really good team win," said third-year forward Joe Schow. "We had a lot of guys in double figures and it was good to see us pull together after a poor shooting first half. In the second half, obviously, we executed the offence well. We played our game, played at the pace we wanted to play and came out with the win."
The Dinos will now have to beat these teams on the road if they are going to continue to rise in the national rankings and expect to be contenders for the Canada West championship. This is an extremely talented team, but on the road the Dinos will not have the luxury of spotting teams 14-point leads and expect to come back. They will have to play a consistent game from start to finish, something which even plagued the team in the pre-season. The next two weeks will be another test for the Dinos as they are on the road against Simon Fraser, Trinity Western and Lethbridge.