CALGARY – The University of Calgary Dinos delivered another prototypical win Thursday, dispatching the Mount Royal Cougars 94-68 in front of a raucous Pack the Jack crowd.
With the win, the Dinos inch closer to locking up the No. 2 seed in Canada West, while the Cougars have now been pushed to the brink, with their final regular season game on Friday likely deciding their playoff fate.
The Dinos took advantage of the frenzied atmosphere to start the game, opening on a 7-1 run that kept the crowd on its feet. Controlling the tempo from the opening tip, Calgary was able to get out in transition. However, sharp three-point shooting by the Cougars kept the game within ten points for most of the first half. Then the Calgary defence clamped down.
David Kapinga recorded two steals, two assists, and two points in less than 20 seconds of gameplay in the second quarter, as the ball-hawking defence took over. At halftime Calgary held a 20-2 points-off-turnover advantage and forced the characteristically ball secure Cougars to cough it up 15 times in 20 minutes. Mambi Diawara and Lucas Mannes notched 15 points apiece at the break and they weren't done there.
The Cougars three-point shooting, which kept the game to a 16-point deficit at the half, went ice cold; only connecting on two of 16 attempts the rest of the way. With the Calgary defence getting stops, the Dinos continued to push the pace, leveraging their deep lineup to stay fresh. This balance helped Lucas Mannes regain his early season rhythm. Since returning to the bench and staggering his minutes with the starters, Mannes has averaged over 20 points per game. He finished with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
Diawara scored a game-high 22 points, with his only blemish coming from the free-throw line, where he went 0-5. In just 24 minutes of action David Kapinga finished with 14 points, 7 assists, and 5 steals, stepping up on the big stage and delivering an exceptional performance at both ends of the floor. With the Dinos building a 30 point lead midway through the third quarter, Dan Vanhooren turned to the bench and they did the rest.
As has been the case all season, the Dinos second unit never took their foot off the gas and contributed to the 24-3 fast break point advantage for Calgary. With the CW playoffs fast approaching, the Calgary bench should be heralded for their contributions every week. Calgary is one of only three teams in CW to have no players in the top 25 of minutes played per game.
For Mount Royal, their post-season aspirations just became even more dire. They now move a half game back of the final playoff spot, which is currently occupied by Brandon. A win on Friday against Calgary, combined with Winnipeg being swept or Brandon splitting their weekend series against Thompson Rivers would slide them into the 12th and final playoff spot. If the Cougars fail to defeat Calgary back on home-court then they need Thompson Rivers to sweep Brandon for them to squeak into the playoffs.
Friday night's action kicks off at 8 p.m. MT on CanadaWest.tv.