The University of Calgary Dino men's basketball team finished their season on the road, splitting their weekend series against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Feb. 8-9. Both games were mostly for pride, as the outcomes had no bearing on either team in the standings or whom either team would play in the post-season.
Whenever a team plays the Huskies, the game plan is to stop 6'8" forward Andrew Spagrud. The fifth-year player has been averaging just over 20 points per game this season and is, arguably, one of the strongest Canada West basketball players in memory. The Dinos defence limited Spagrud to just seven points. Keeping the team's star player limited to single digits in points is a tell-tale sign of the team losing and that's exactly what happened to the Huskies as the Dinos would win 72-67. Spagrud's sidekick Kyle Grant who is also having a strong season averaging over 15 points per game, was stopped at just two points on the night. However, they did manage to out-rebound the Dinos 30-27.
The Huskies had a 38-26 lead at half-time but the team's best players just coulndn't keep it afloat. The Dinos outscored them 44-19 in the second half.
Hank "the Tank" Bekkering led the Dinos' offensive attack, torching the Huskies for 24 points. Bekkering might not have the highest point-per-game average in Canada West but in head-to-head competition, he frequently has more points than those ahead of him and is still third in the league, averaging 21.05 points per game. He is a strong candidate the Canada West MVP award and on the number-four ranked team in the country. Other strong players included point guard Jeff Price who had 15 points, rookie Tyler Fidler who had 14 and forward Robbie Sihota rocked 13.
"I still don't feel we played our best basketball in Saskatchewan," said Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren. "[We had] two games on a long roadtrip where we came out and won the first game. I thought was a really good testament to the team we have."
The Sat. night game was senior night as the Huskies honoured all five of their fifth-year players making for a lengthy ceremony. Teams on the road typically do not win on senior night and the Huskies made their seniors' last regular season home game a victorious one with an 86-73 victory.
This time, Spagrud wasn't kept silent racking up 28 points and becoming the all-time leading scorer in the history of Canada West basketball with 2,182 points. Grant also rebounded and had a twenty-point effort. The Dinos were only down seven points at the half but the Huskies would lead by eight at the end of the third quarter and the Dinos would only score 11 points in the fourth quarter.
The offensive attack was led by familiar faces as Bekkering had 20 points, Price 17 and Sihota had 12. Forward Ross Bekkering sat out both games with an ankle injury but will be back in time for the playoffs.
Third-year forwards Sihota and Ross Bekkering have had much better seasons than they did last year and are big reasons why the Dinos finished with an 18-4 record instead of the .500 record they had last season. Both of them worked hard in the off-season getting stronger and it has paid off as Sihota has averaged 13.68 points per game this season and Ross lead the league in rebounds averaging 10.4 per game.
The number-four ranked Dinos will now play the waiting game as they have a first-round bye, getting ready to play the winner of the series between the Huskies and University of Alberta Golden Bears. If they win that series they will host the Canada West final four.