Men's basketball Top 10: Sihota's dagger decides Can West classic

Calgary forward Robbie Sihota is nicknamed Superman, but he might be Big Shot Rob. The forward hit the shot, sticking a clinching three-pointer with 15.5 seconds left to clinch the Dinos' 80-76 win over UBC in the Canada West gold-medal game. It is the second time this season he hit a last-minute game-winner vs. a Top 5 team, and both times, it was away from home.

The Dinos coughed up a 21-point lead, but made the stops and last season's "debacle," (coach Dan Vanhooren's word), where they lost twice at home to miss out on a Final 8 trip:
  1. Carleton — It will be Canal War III next Wednesday at the Ravens' Nest, as Carleton rolled by York 105-57 in its OUA East semi-final. Third-year point guard Mike Kenny had 21 points, making 7-of-10 threes (he didn't even take a two). Aaron Doornekamp, according to one of commenters, showed no ill effects from his recent foot injury and scored 16 points, while Stu Turnbull had 18.

  2. UBC — Not enough went right for the Thunderbirds in the first two, 2½, three quarters in their 80-76 loss to Calgary Saturday and it might cost them the No. 2 seed at the Final 8.

    UBC's 12-of-25 free-throw shooting, foul trouble by Bryson Kool and Matt Rachar, and two big shots by Calgary's Sihota in the final 90 seconds (he put the Dinos ahead with a shot from the top of the key with 1:28 left) proved their downfall. Dyck, with 23 points, and Josh Whyte (21 points, including a contested, tying three with 3:26 left), along with seldom-used frosh point guard Akeem Pierre, led a dramatic comeback.

    Whyte, in a post-game interview, said "no" when asked if the Thunderbirds took any solace from the comeback. The song playing over the gym P.A., no word of a lie, was The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony.

    Dyck was the top scorer in both of UBC's games this weekend, scoring 24 in Friday's 92-71 semi-final win over Brandon. Trinity Western's Jacob Doerksen was Canada West MVP over Dyck, but the stats bear out the selection. It means Dyck will be among the best players in recent years to not win the Mike Moser Trophy.

    The entire weekend is archived at
  3. Ottawa — To quote the Rogers 22 analyst Kris Ruiter, the Gee-Gees were the JJs in their 96-81 win over Toronto, as backcourt running mates Josh Gibson-Bascombe and Josh Wright respectively totalled 28 and 26 points (we had the liveblog).

    Ottawa was sluggish off the hop and was down five after a quarter. Thanks in large part to Wright sparking them, the game was over by the end of the third, as they pushed the lead past 30 points before both teams cleared their benches.

    Carleton defends much better than Toronto and is more athletic, but the Gee-Gees are playing very well.
  4. Western — Swingman Bradley Smith brought the Mustangs from 10 points down after the first quarter to beat pesky Waterloo 74-62 in the OUA West semi-final on Saturday and set up a division final vs. Windsor.

    Keenan Jeppesen (six points, nine boards, just 1-of-6) from the field was contained, which no doubt hurt Western. He had 24 points the last time Western played Windsor.He will be contesting the same space as Windsor's inside tandem of Greg Surmacz and Nigel Johnston-Tyghter next week in the OUA West final.

  5. Calgary (co-No. 5) — The Dinos' clinching basket came off a broken play. Up by one with about a 15-second differential between shot clock and game clock, Henry Bekkering (22 points) got trapped in the right corner. He threw the kind of cross-court pass that usually results in two points for the other guys, but whatever the reason, but point guard Andy Rochon caught it, waist-high, and swung it quickly to Sihota (15 points), who now has hit game-winning shots over two of the Top 5 teams in the country, having hit one with two seconds left to beat Ottawa at Christmastime.

    Along with Henry's 22, Ross Bekkering had 17 points and frosh forward Dominyc Coward added 11 off the bench.

    Friday, the Dinos destroyed Trinity Western 96-65 to become the second team (after host Carleton) to qualify for the Final 8. They tag-teamed the Spartans with Henry Bekkering (29 points) and Sihota (28) and turning their foes into jump shooters (28 three-ball attempts, just 10 trips to the line).

    The Dinos are sharing the No. 5 spot in the coaches' poll with St. FX (for diplomacy's sake, we'll go in alphabetical order).

  6. St. Francis Xavier (co-No. 5) — It's hard to fathom how the X-Men, who were down as much as 14 in the second half, managed to pull this off, but Terrence Taylor (27 points in 39 minutes), Christian Upshaw (18 and 40) and Tyler Richards (17 in 44) led the charge back. X got to the line (32 freebies) and made them (24), which extended the game and helped them claw back; all eight players in their rotation played at least 20 minutes, which speaks to their depth. Their rebounding, frankly, seems to be in absentia sometimes, and Cape Breton's 52.6% free-throw shooting gave them an opening, but, still what a win.

    Cape Breton and St. FX, over their last 80 minutes of regulation time basketball, have been separated by just four points.

    St. FX, barring an upset, will get the Saint Mary's-UPEI winner in the AUS semi-final.

  7. Concordia — Host UQAM in the Quebec final next Thursday after an 80-63 semi-final win over McGill; Damien Buckley had 22 points and Jamal Gallier cleaned up inside (12 points, 13 boards)

  8. Windsor — The Lancers corroborated suspicions they were better than McMaster than they showed during a season-series split, whipping the Marauders 71-48 in the OUA West semi-final.

    Matt Handsor's outside shooting was the X factor, as he made a big three late in the first half, then bottomed out on two velvety threes during a decisive 13-0 run over the final 3:52 of the third quarter. Mac was still within eight at that point, when big man Mouctar Diaby picked up his fourth foul, but soon enough the lead was 20. Handsor had 19 points, making 5-of-6 threes.

    It was candy-store stuff for the Lancers. On back-to-back sequences in the fourth quarter, Surmacz, defending out on the perimeter, made a deflection and went coast-to-coast for a layup like a 5-foot-10 guard instead of a 6-foot-8 post. On the next possession, he fired a half court-length baseball pass to Handsor for a layup.

    Windsor, who has had the rap of being a different team on the road, kept within a basket of Western for most of the way in London on Feb. 18 (a 90-76 Mustangs victory). It's a tough matchup either way; Windsor is a post-oriented team, while Western favours an up-tempo game.

  9. Cape Breton — The Capers were up 14 on the road vs. St. FX, showing why they have been getting some Bracketology love, but somehow it got away from them. The Capers probably rue making just seven of their first 19 free throws against X and having their garbageman, southpaw forward Scott Jasper-Fayers, limited to just 17 minutes (he scored 12 points) due to foul trouble. For the first 30 or so minutes vs. X, they otherwise looked like a Final 8 team.

    Combo forward Philip Nkrumah (18 points, 19 rebounds) showed the full gamut of his skills vs. St. FX. Dalhousie beat Saint Mary's Saturday to nab third spot in the AUS (Simon Farine had 31 points in Dal's 77-59 win), so a Tigers-Capers semi-final is likely.

  10. Trinity Western — Doerksen had 20 points, 12 rebounds in the Spartans' 82-71 bronze-medal game win over Brandon on Saturday. The Spartans now have to hope that losing by 31 to Calgary did not hurt their wild-card argument.

    Jason Keegstra
    added 17 points and Brian Banman, the fifty-year senior who made a comeback after suffering serious injuries in a head-on car crash a few years ago, had 16 in the possible final game of his career.

    Keegstra was a bright spot in that Friday night filleting with 18 points; Doerksen had 14. Trinity Western going to the Final 8.
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  1. Although they probably would not agree if you asked them, UBC losing the CW final isn't necessarily a bad thing.
    First, it should be pointed out that the last three CIS champions did not win their own league.
    In fact, the Brock Badgers, last years Cinderella team, didn't even make the Wilson Cup.
    And if UBC doesn't go in this year's tournament ranked #2, they may well breathe a sigh of relief.
    Four times in recent years the T-birds were seeded #2, only to fall gracelessly in the opening round.
    Maybe a #3 seed will bring them better worked for Carleton, two years running.

  2. The Rogers announcers in Toronto?
    The game was in Ottawa, mon ami.
    The commentators were Richard Provencher, Wayne Kondro and Kris Ruiter, a member of Bishop's 1998 championship team.
    I believe it was Ruiter who came up with the "JJ's" remark.

  3. Thanks ... wasn't sure on the correct spelling of Messrs. Provencher and Ruiter's names, so I didn't want to screw it up, and yet still I screwed it up. No excuses!

  4. Ubc will be at the nationa i don't think there is any question about it.

    Here are my picks
    Cape Breton

  5. Pretty good set of picks, but do you have Cape Breton winning the AUS and St. FX getting the wild card over Western?

    It's a good point that the last 3 champs didn't win their own conference (although Carleton won the 8-team OUA East in '06-07, which is as big or bigger than two other conferences).

  6. I just can't see 4 oua teams in the nationals.

  7. OUA has it tough since teams will always lose late due to depth at playoff time.

    If people look at body of work, UBC will be unlucky to not get the no.2 seed, however, all in all they will be top 3 which is about right.

    Dyck, this coming from a UBC fan mind you, had a very average regular season and not just because the 'Birds had so much depth. He was pretty cold, forcing up his shots.

    His playoff numbers are unreal and in the end, personal accolades aside, it is more important that he helps UBC do something at nationals.

  8. I tjhink ubc may have a hard time at the nationals.In canada west there is really 2 elite teams.Ubc and calgary.In the oua there is 3
    Carleton,Ottawa/Western.Then stfx likely will be part of it and there another elite team.Aslot some do not think any quebec teams have any chance at all.