The Calgary Dinos used a combination of stingy defence and timely offence to punch their ticket to the U SPORTS final, topping the McGill Redmen 65-43 in the first of two championship semifinals played Saturday in Halifax.
Leading 16-15 after the first 10 minutes, second-seed Calgary outscored McGill 16-7 in the second quarter to lead 32-22 at halftime. The Dinos continued to build their lead through the third and led by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter.
Calgary’s defence was the difference in the game as the Dinos forced 23 McGill turnovers. The largest lead for the Redmen was four points, midway through the second quarter.
Player of the Game David Kapinga led all scorers with 19 points for Calgary, and added four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Mambi Diawara had 15 points, including a pair of threes, and Connor Foreman finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Alex Paquin was the only player in double figures with 10 for McGill, which shot just 29.1 per cent on the game (16-55) and 4-32 from beyond the arc. Francois Bourque and Noah Daoust finished with eight points apiece.
“I congratulate Calgary for having a solid game plan coming in and executing it well,” McGill coach David DeAveiro said after the game. “Their defence was outstanding. We’re normally a good three-point shooting team. Their rotations were good and they knew exactly where they had to be on defence.
“You hold a team to 65 points, and you should have a chance to win. We had some good looks in the first half, but we didn’t make our shots, and the more we missed, the better their defence got…They’re led by a group of seniors who are very good players. Whoever gets them in the final will be in for a game.”
“Our defence held us in the game, all game long,” said Calgary head coach Dan Vanhooren. “Offensively, we turned the ball over too much. We had seven turnovers in the first quarter alone, and 12 at the half.
“We rebounded really well,” he added. “It was probably our best defensive performance of the year. McGill is a very good team. They missed some shots they would normally make. If they make those shots, it’s a totally different game.”
Calgary advances to Sunday’s national final and will face the winner of the second semifinal scheduled for Saturday night between Ryerson and defending champion Carleton, while McGill will play for bronze.
When asked if their first-round loss to Carleton at last year’s tournament would serve as motivation, Vanhooren noted “These guys are always motivated. There’s not a player on our team who hasn’t talked all season about making it to the national final.”
Kapinga agreed that the Dinos have evolved as a team over the past several years.
“The first year we were here, it was a different culture,” he said. “We made it here, but with no expectations. Last year, we had expectations, but we drew Carleton in the first round and lost. The last two years were huge for us. We learned how to win.”
The championship final is scheduled for Sunday at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet Now.
Players of the Game
- Calgary: Mambi Diawara
- McGill: Alex Paquin