The Dinos men's basketball team came up just short of a weekend sweep once again in a face off with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns Nov. 25-26. The U of L came back hard against the Dinos on Saturday after being mercilessly defeated on Friday night. In the end, home was where the win was for each team.
Matching the Pronghorns sprint for sprint, our men kept the game fast-paced yet controlled on Friday night in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium. The Dinos confronted and conquered their recent inner evils, beating the Pronghorns on turnovers while shooting well from the line. As forward Robbie Sihota played the net, Chris Wright, Ross Bekkering and Josh Feist formed the holy trinity of three-point shots, with Cody Darrah adding three of his own.
Our men were up at the half 53-42 with no signs of stopping. The closest the Pronghorns could get was within four points with eight minutes left in the game. This didn't last long. Wright continued to carve his name into the backboard, sinking his foul shots with ease, and Feist added his second steal and breakaway of the evening. The Pronghorns could only stand with mouths gaping and their coronary coach screaming in the background.
To the horror of the fans, Feist suffered a leg injury with just 4:25 left on the clock. But the lead was enough to secure the Dinos a 96-80 victory and put hope in their saddle as they followed the Pronghorns down to Lethbridge for another showdown Saturday night.
Unfortunately, the first half alone seemed to determine the fate of our Dinos. The U of L pulled out all the stops with their fast breaks, offensively penetrating the Dinos' defense. This didn't let up in the second half either; the Dinos were out-scored 50-39 and the defensive lull allowed Pronghorns Todd McClenaghan, Scott Mackinnon and Tim Whitehead to score over 20 points each.
Our own scoring was also pretty even. But without the defense to back it up, none of the players fully matched the previous evening's big scores. With a 111-74 loss to the Pronghorns, the Dinos now stand at 2-6 in league play.
Although not achieving their completely victorious weekend could have made the men as bitter as Paul Martin, the talent they displayed on Friday night was enough to keep them hungry for more of the same. Wright, Dinos' co-captain and Friday's top scorer with 28 points, is staying optimistic and looking towards the next wins.
"They played well in most areas of the game," he said of his team. "But even if you look at the statistics, we had less turnovers, we had more offensive shots. Usually, when you're winning in those categories, it should have been a closer game. But it really just came down to them hitting more shots."
Another foul to the team was the loss of veteran point guard and co-captain Whit Hornsberger, who had to leave the team due to sustained injuries. But with not-so-rookie Bekkering stepping up on Friday night with 17 points and 13 rebounds to win Player of the Game, Wright is confident that the team can move past the loss.
"We've really got to focus on the guys that we have on the court and what we can do with that," he said. "We've been saying it all year: we have the talent, we've just got to put it in the right direction and get everyone motivated. Mentally we've just got to be tougher. We've got to prove it to ourselves, to our fans, that we can be a dominant team. So that does start with us."
The men will tie their laces extra tight Dec. 3-4 as they tip off with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies at 2 p.m. in the Jack. Although the Huskies are 7-1 in league play, the Dinos will be working to make a dog sled out of them in hopes of two more victories before the holidays. 'Tis the season to dominate.