VANCOUVER (CIS) - With their 98-87 win over the top-seeded Ryerson Rams in the semifinals, the No. 4-ranked Calgary Dinos have only one more step to take in order to claim the program's first national title.
Although it is a pretty big step.
With the Carleton Ravens dispatching of the AUS Champion Dalhousie Tigers 76-66 in the other semifinal, it means Calgary will have to go through the five-time reigning champions to achieve their ultimate goal, a task that Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren isn't taking lightly.
"We're going to have to defend even better," said Vanhooren."They continue to work, they are an incredible program, and they are well-coached – Rob [Smart] is doing a good job with those kids this year. I'll take some time tonight and over the night to make sure that we're studying them well."
On Saturday night against the Rams, the Dinos were once again led offensively by import guard Thomas Cooper, as the First Team All-Canadian finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds, and a pair of steals. Calgary also got massive contributions from guards David Kapinga – 26 points, six rebounds, and six assists – and Jasdeep Gill, who came off the bench to pour in 23 points, shooting 4-of-7 from downtown, in 25 minutes of floor time, and was named Calgary's Player of the Game for his efforts.
For the Rams, guard Ammanuel Diressa knocked down 20 points on 5-of-14 shooting, while Adika Peter-McNeilly went for volume, putting up 22 points on 17 shots, while going 9-of-9 from the charity stripe.
In a mirror-image of their performance against UBC in the quarterfinals, Ryerson started the contest ice cold, hitting only 6-of-21, from the field, including a mark of 0-for-11 from distance, in the first quarter. Of the 13 points Ryerson scored in the frame, seven came from Peter-McNeilly, while just two came from their Second Team All-Canadian Best.
Calgary, on the other hand, came out hot. Cooper put himself on double-double watch early, putting up 11 points and coming down with six rebounds in the first 10 minutes. Kapinga chipped in with nine, as the Dinos shot 11-of-22 from the field en route to a 27-13 lead by the end of the first quarter.
"I don't think the guys have anything to be disappointed about, to be honest with you," noted Ryerson head coach Patrick Tatham after the contest. "Yes, it was a close game, and yes, we played from behind, we played in a hole, but we had spurts where we were really good, and we had spurts where weren't as good on defense. "
The Rams clawed their way back to within six points on a 10-0 run in the later stages of the second quarter, with Diressa knocking down eight of those, as the third-year guard flashed his ability to make shots from all over the court.
With the Rams gathering momentum, Calgary needed a boost and got a big one in the form of a buzzer-beating Jhony Verrone triple, restoring the Dinos' lead to nine as they headed into halftime, up 47-38.
The Dinos, hitting, 7-of 13 from beyond the arc in the first half, continued to gash Ryerson from three-point land in the third quarter. Aside from Cooper adding another triple, Gill took center stage in the frame. The fourth-year guard knocked down three buckets from downtown, including a pair back-to-back late in the frame.
Juwon Grannum helped keep the Rams within striking distance, as the Ryerson guard got his first five points of the contest in the third quarter. With their perimeter offense still sputtering, the Rams continued to use their athleticism to make their way to the basket and get shots from inside, as they notched 10 points from the paint in the third.
Still, the Dinos held a 10-point advantage heading into the final quarter, up 71-61
The two teams really opened it up in the final frame, giving a glimpse of the track meet that the contest was billed as coming in. Kapinga and Gill combined for 17 points in the quarter, as Calgary matched Ryerson shot-for-shot, outscoring them 27-26, to keep them well in the rearview mirror.
"I think you have to credit [Ryerson]," assessed Vanhooren. "Athletically, they're a pretty tough matchup. And we know that we're pretty fortunate that we had some guys knocking down some shots to make that difference."
CAL 27-20-24-27: 98
RYE 13-25-23-26: 87
Points: Thomas Cooper (30), David Kapinga (26), Jasdeep Gill (23)
Rebounds: Thomas Cooper (11), David Kapinga (6)
Assists: David Kapinga (6),
Player of the game: Jasdeep Gill
Points: Adika Peter-McNeilly (22), AmmanuelDiressa (20)
Rebounds: Kadeem Green (10), Adika Peter-McNeilly (8)
Assists: Adika Peter-McNeilly (4)
Player of the game: AmmanuelDiressa
SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times PACIFIC)
Thursday, March 17
13:00 Quarter-final 1: No. 2 Carleton 91, No. 7 Thompson Rivers 75
15:00 Quarter-final 2: No. 6 Dalhousie 87, No. 3 Ottawa 83
18:00 Quarter-final 3: No. 4 Calgary 72, No. 5 McGill 69
20:00 Quarter-final 4: No. 1 Ryerson 109, No. 8 UBC 101 (OT)
Friday, March 18
17:00 Consolation 1: Ottawa 78, Thompson Rivers 77
19:00 Consolation 2: UBC 69, McGill 68
Saturday, March 19
12:00 5th-place game: UBC 93, Ottawa 76
15:00 Semifinal 1: Carleton 76, Dalhousie 66
17:30 Semifinal 2: Calgary 98, Ryerson 87
Sunday, March 20
14:00 Bronze: Dalhousie vs. Ryerson (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
17:30 Final: Carleton vs. Calgary (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *
* Webcast of the semifinals & final are on pay-per-view basis.