The second-seeded Calgary Dinos rode a sensational second-half performance to defeat the hometown Saint Mary’s Huskies 94-78 in the opening quarterfinal game of the U SPORTS Men’s Basketball Final 8 tournament.
All-Canadian Mambi Diawara garnered Player of the Game for the defending national champions with a triple-double effort – 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Dinos outscored the Huskies 55-34 in the second half.
“I am pleased with how we responded in the second half,” said Dino head coach and U SPORTS Fox 40 Coach of the Year Dan Vanhooren.
“I told our players to be themselves – we were playing too safely. We gave Saint Mary’s too much in the paint and their shooting percentage was too high (in the first half).”
He agreed that the third quarter, where the Dinos held the Huskies to 11 per cent shooting and pulled away, reflected what they do when they are successful.
In a low-scoring opening five minutes, the Huskies led 10-8, keyed by five points from point guard Nico Brauner, including a three-pointer, while power forward Brett Layton meshed six for the Dinos.
On back-to-back baskets from Diawara, including one on an athletic drive and turnaround jumper, along with a pair of free throws, the Dinos led 14-10.
The final moments of a see-saw first quarter were dramatic ones.
After Johneil Johnson of the Huskies sank two out of three free throws, which came after he was fouled while attempting a three-point shot, the Dinos inbounded, with only 3.8 seconds remaining, and Lars Schlueter drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer from his side of the half court line.
The Dinos led 21-19 after the first quarter.
Keyed by five consecutive points from both First Team All-Canadian Kemar Alleyne and Nikita Kasongo, the Huskies, who stretched their edge to as many as seven points, led 34-30 midway through the second quarter.
In a first half highlighted by great individual offensive efforts from both teams, Johnson put the Huskies up 42-36 with a soaring rebound and put back.
After Dinos guard Andrew Milner scored from downtown, Alleyne bested tight defence and swished a turnaround for the final points of the first half.
The Huskies took a 44-39 lead to the locker room, led by 13 points from Alleyne, while Diawara topped the Dinos with 10.
In the first four minutes of the third quarter, the Dinos regained the lead – 51-47 – with a 12-3 scoring spurt. Layton, on a trio of layups, and Schlueter, with five points, including a three-pointer, led the Dino surge.
After a three-pointer from Lucas Mannes, off the fast break, the Dinos took a double-digit advantage at 59-49.
The Dinos outscored the Huskies 28-10 in the third to take a 67-54 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“They picked up their intensity on the defensive end in the second half,” said AUS coach of the year Jonah Taussig, when asked if the Dinos changed anything in the second half.
“I don’t think they necessarily did anything differently, but what they wanted to do, they did a little bit better.”
He added the Dinos hurt his Huskies with their transition game and three-point shooting.
Early in the final 10 minutes, Kasongo scored on a couple of highlight reel drives in trying to rally the Huskies, while Diawara answered by weaving through the Saint Mary’s defence before making an acrobatic scoop shot.
After another Mannes three-pointer, the Dinos led 76-61.
Layton, who led the Dinos with 23 points in only 20 minutes, put an exclamation point on Calgary’s second-half burst with a dunk, to give his team an 86-67 advantage with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
Schlueter finished with a double-double – 16 points and 10 rebounds – while Mannes, had 14 off the bench, and Kapinga (10) also scored in double digits.
Alleyne, the Huskies Player of the Game, finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Johnson and Kasongo finished with 18 and 16 points, respectively.
The Dinos will take on the winner of Ryerson Rams/Concordia Stingers quarterfinal match-up in Saturday’s semifinal at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT on Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet Now and TVA Sports, while the Huskies will tip off against the loser in the consolation semifinal at 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT.
Players of the Game
- Calgary: Mambi Diawara
- Saint Mary’s: Kemar Alleyne