The University of Calgary Dinos proved why they are riding a 28-game winning streak in Canada West play, pulling away from the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves in the second half to top the TWolves 94-70 on Friday, January 3rd in Calgary, Alberta.
In the first quarter, it was the Timberwolves who came out firing as Vova Pluzhnikov made a pair of early three-pointers and the visitors held an early six point lead. The Dinos seemed to respond to a timeout from Coach Dan Vanhooren, as they clamped down defensively and went to star big man Brett Layton on the offensive end. UNBC held a slim 19-18 lead after one quarter.
In the second frame, the TWolves went cold offensively while Layton and fellow post Mason Foreman went to work on the glass. The Dinos crashed the offensive glass and earned second and third chance opportunities, while UNBC leaned on a pair of freshmen; Saymon Loki and Fareed Shittu in the paint. At the half, the Dinos held a 43-31 advantage.
“We came out really strong in the first quarter, but they really turned the pressure up,” said UNBC’s Saymon Loki, who was making the first start of his career. “They really started to attack the glass and got really physical with our guards all the way up the floor.”
The Dinos continued to play in the paint in the third quarter, while Ezeoha Santiago began heating up with slashes to the hoop. UNBC did well to get their offense going, as veterans Anthony Hokanson and Saje Gosal chipped in with treys, but it was Calgary holding a 68-51 lead heading into the fourth.
Tyrell Laing led the way for the Timberwolves down the stretch, making some very tough shots to keep the visitors within relative striking distance, but every time UNBC had life, the duo of Foreman and Layton would extinguish that hope. When the final buzzer sounded, Calgary had earned a 94-70 victory to improve to 9-0 on the campaign.
Layton was a dominant presence, scoring 19 points to go along with 24 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks. Foreman had 20 points and nine boards, while Santiago was the high man with 21 points.
“He is the best post in the conference, so I was happy to have that experience in my first start,” said Loki of Layton. “I hung in there, but he is really talented, and the best rebounder in Canada West. He is a big dude.”
Laing was eight-for-14 from the field for 28 points, to go along with four assists. Pluzhnikov added 15 points and six rebounds.
The Dinos won the rebounding battle by a 44-26 margin, including 21-6 on the offensive glass. This led to Calgary taking 23 more field goal attempts than the TWolves, and a 64-16 scoring advantage in the paint.
The two teams will clash again Saturday, January 4 in Calgary.
“We need to take care of the ball a lot better,” said Loki. “If we cut down on our turnovers, that will go a long way. They are one of the best teams in Canada for a reason, but we will be ready to battle.”