For the first time in the history of the University of Calgary Dinos, a NCAA Division 1 team came to Calgary to play exhibition matches. The men's basketball team took on the University of Wyoming Cowboys on Sat., Sept. 2 and Sun., Sept. 3 at the Jack Simpson Gym in a two game pre-season series.
Last season, the Cowboys came within a game of making it to the 65-team March Madness tournament, losing in overtime to the San Diego State Aztecs in the Mountain West Final.
Though only an exhibition match, both teams were looking for confidence-boosting wins. The Dinos had it tough from the start, facing a Cowboys team with junior guard Brandon Ewing, a third team all-star in the competitive Mount West Conference.
Saturday's game was close; the Cowboys highest lead of the first half was an eight point spread near the 10-minute mark. Clawing their way back into the game, the Dinos grabbed a four point lead with just over three minutes to go, and finished with a 36-35 advantage at the buzzer.
Everything was looking good at the start of the second half when the Dinos still held a single point edge just over five minutes in.
Unfortunately, that was the last time the Dinos would lead, as the Cowboys stormed back with a 12 point run, out rebounding the Dinos 7-0. The Dinos took only four shots during the Cowboys run, missing all of them and turning the ball over four times.
The game finished in a 79-67 victory for the Cowboys. Brandon Ewing led all scorers with 26 points in 33 minutes of playing time, adding six rebounds and three assists. The Dinos were lead by Josh Feist's 13 points, and Robbie Sihota's double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds.
"Ewing was great for them," said Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren. "He took control of the game in the second half."
Sunday's game was barely even a contest, as the Dinos were missing starters Feist and Brian Finniss due to minor injuries suffered Saturday. At the end of Sunday's first half, the Cowboys lead 42-21.
The game finished in a 91-63 whitewash for the Cowboys with Ewing again leading all scorers with 21 points. The Dinos never lead past the first minute and allowed the visitors to accumulate as much as a 37-point lead.
Cowboys starter Daaron Brown played all 40 minutes scoring 17 points and adding nine rebounds. The Dinos were lead by two players in double digits: starter Cody Darrah's 18 points in 37 minutes as well as Dustin Reding's 12 points off the bench.
Though they finished with a blank in the win column after the weekend, the Dinos can be satisfied that they played well against what will be their toughest opponent of the year. Moving forward, the Dinos have plenty to take away from this rare opportunity to play against the highest collegiate level of competition.