The University of Calgary Dinos men’s basketball team staved off a scoring surge by the University of Northern British Columbia and hung on to defeat the Timberwolves 85-75 Saturday night at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.
Trailing 75-64 midway through the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves put together an 8-3 run to narrow Calgary’s lead to 78-72. It wasn’t enough as the Dinos pulled away with seven points in the final three minutes to earn the two-game sweep against UNBC in Canada West action.
“To get two road wins anywhere is tough to do,” said Calgary head coach Dan Vanhooren. “I’m pleased with those two wins and I think this team (the Timberwolves) are going to win some games this year.”
Fourth-year guard Mambi Diawara led the Dinos with a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds. David Kapinga added 15 points, while Lars Schluter netted 12 points and six rebounds.
UNBC got off to a great start in the game, holding onto a six-point 26-20 lead after the first quarter, shooting 70 per cent from the floor. Calgary answered in the second quarter, outscoring the Timberwolves 24-15 and staking themselves to a 44-41 half-time lead.
“They (the Timberwolves) hit 70 per cent of their shots in the first quarter — that’s usually a combination of things,” said Vanhooren. “They had a couple of good looks early and our defence didn’t hold the fort like they should. I was proud of our guys were able to maintain their composure and still execute and fought our way back into the ball game. To be down six after that first quarter was fortunate for us.”
The Timberwolves were led on the score sheet by second-year guard Vova Pluzhnikov who had 17 points while playing the entire 40-minute game. Marcus MacKay added 15 points. James Agyeman, who fouled out late in the game, netted 13 and grabbed seven rebounds.
“At the end of the day Calgary’s a tough squad, they’ve been in (the Canada West) final four year in, year out,” said UNBC head coach Todd Jordan. “For us to battle this weekend there are a lot of positives to take out of it. Obviously it would’ve been nice to get one, and we were hoping to get one and we expect to put in an effort to get one, but it didn’t go our way.
“But there’s a lot to take out of it, we’re a fairly new team with six new guys and it’s all a process for us and it’s still early in the season.”
Jordan added Pluzhnikov, who red-shirted last season, was the only player who could match up well against the six-foot-four guard Diawara.
“He did a reasonable job on him for a lot of possessions,” said Jordan. “He’s going to be a big part of what we do this year.”
The 2-0 Dinos return to Calgary for their home-opener Friday against the UBC Thunderbirds.
“Every weekend is a new one,” said Vanhooren. They’re (the Thunderbirds) a good team and well-coached. We have a good knowledge and how they operate and it’s going to come down to which kids make plays.”
Meanwhile, the 0-2 UNBC Timberwolves travel to Langley on Friday to face Trinity Western University.
“We just said to the guys the bar that we need to get to by the end of the season has got to be where they’re (Calgary’s) at and I don’t think we’re far off,” said Jordan. “I thought we gave Calgary, for good stretches everything they could handle this weekend.”