VANCOUVER (CIS) – The No. 4-seeded Calgary Dinos erased a three-point deficit in the final minute of regulation to defeat the No. 5 McGill Redmen 72-69 in the quarter-finals of the 2016 ArcelorMittal Dofasco CIS Men’s Basketball Final 8 on Thursday evening at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
McGill’s Dele Ogundokun knocked down a three-pointer to give his team a 69-66 lead with 57.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but the Canada West champion Dinos executed flawlessly in the closing seconds to earn a CIS semifinal berth for the first time since 2010.
Calgary shooting guard Thomas Cooper, the Canada West scoring champ and MVP, fed David Kapinga for a layup to cut the deficit to 69-68 with 46 seconds left. On the next Redmen possession, Tychon Carter-Newman was called for traveling, and the Dinos’ Jhony Verrone drew a foul at the other end and went 2-for-2 from the free throw line to give his team a 70-69 lead with 26.4 seconds remaining.
Cooper, better-known for his scoring, came up with a huge steal with 9.8 seconds left and hit two subsequent free throws to make it 72-69, and Dinos forward Mitch Ligertwood blocked a potential game-tying shot from beyond the arc by Jenning Leung to seal the victory.
“It’s a big win for these guys,” Calgary head coach Dan Vanhooren said. “We’re going to have most of them back next year, too, so the experience to advance in this tournament is a really big thing for our program.”
McGill led 19-15 at the end of the first quarter, but Cooper heated up midway through the second. The fourth-year shooting guard from Chattanooga, Tenn. scored on three straight possessions – a pair of three-pointers followed by a tough leaner in traffic – to spark a 15-6 run, and the Dinos led 36-27 with just under four minutes left in the half.
The Redmen, though, ended the frame on a 9-2 run, highlighted by five points from Ogundokun, and cut the deficit to 40-38 at the break.
The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair featuring four lead changes, and the fourth quarter was more of the same, with the lead changing hands six times. But it was the Dinos who were the more composed team in the dying seconds.
Afterward, Vanhooren lauded the clutch play of guards Cooper and Kapinga.
“Thomas has been big for us at the end of games since the beginning of the year,” he said. “We look to him to lead us in those situations, and so does the rest of the team, and he’s done it again.
“David Kapinga’s defensive capabilities shined. He has three or four steals down the stretch that really turned the tide of the game and caused McGill some problems when they were looking to enter it into the post.”
The loss was a bitter pill for RSEQ champion McGill, and in the aftermath, head coach David DeAveiro pointed to a pair of telling statistics – his team’s 19 turnovers that led to 20 Calgary points, and the Dinos’ 21-5 edge in points from the free throw line.
“I thought we defended and played extremely hard,” he said. “As well as they (the Dinos) played, I’m disappointed with those two stats, we put them in a position to win.
“It’s a disappointing loss. We came here to win a title this year. We didn’t come here to play for fifth or sixth, we came here to win. And to not execute down the stretch is extremely frustrating. As good as Calgary is, we can’t help Calgary win games. And I thought tonight, we helped Calgary win this game.”
Cooper finished with a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds for the Dinos, and Verrone (12 points) and Kapinga (11 points) also scored in double figures.
Ogundokun led the Redmen with 19 points, and Leung’s 15 points came exclusively via the three-point shot – he went 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.
The Dinos advance to play the winner of Thursday’s late quarter-final between No. 1 Ryerson and No. 8 UBC in the semis at 5:30 p.m. Pacific time on Saturday, live on Sportsnet 360 and www.CIS-SIC.tv. The Redmen return to action in the second consolation game of the day on Friday, taking on the Ryerson-UBC loser (5 p.m., www.CIS-SIC.tv).
CGY 15-25-15-17: 72
MCG 19-19-14-17: 69
Points: Thomas Cooper (21), Jhony Verrone (12), David Kapinga (11)
Rebounds: Cooper (9)
Assists: Kapinga (2), Lars Schlueter (2)
Points: Dele Ogundokun (19), Jenning Leung (15)
Rebounds: Vincent Dufort (6)
Assists: Leung (5)
SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times PACIFIC)
Thursday, March 17
13:00 Quarter-final 1: Carleton 91, Thompson Rivers 75
15:00 Quarter-final 2: Dalhousie 87, Ottawa 83
18:00 Quarter-final 3: Calgary 72, McGill 69
20:00 Quarter-final 4: No. 8 UBC vs. No. 1 Ryerson (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
Saturday, March 19 12:00 5th-place game (www.CIS-SIC.tv)
15:00 Semifinal 1: Carleton vs. Dalhousie (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *
17:30 Semifinal 2: Calgary vs. Winner QF 4 (Sportsnet 360 / www.CIS-SIC.tv) *
* Webcast of the semifinals & final are on pay-per-view basis.