VANCOUVER — A turnover is fair play. Thomas Cooper was scuffling offensively much of the night, but made the late defensive play that iced the Calgary Dinos' 72-69 win against the McGill Redmen.
Calgary had to spend much of the night at McGill's tempo, and went down after a tiebreaking triple from Dele Ogundokun with 57.9 seconds left. However, the Dinos drew three consecutive fouls, including ones that Jhony Verrone made for the lead with 26.4 seconds left.
On the Redmen's last chance to go ahead, Cooper slapped down a pass to make a steal. After Cooper's subsequent pair of freebies with 9.8 left. McGill didn't get much look at a tying three, and Calgary escaped.
Also, if anyone thinks it was any solace for the Quebec conference, now an 0-11 streak in the quarters, that McGill led in the last minute ... well, it wasn't. Talking about conference strength is a good framing devicc for discussing this tournament, but Dave DeAveiro reminded us there are competitive human beings playing these games.
FINAL — No. 4 Calgary 72, No. 5 McGill 69
Impact for/on the Dinos — One person's bullet, dodged is another's survive and advance, and Calgary is smart enough to know it got away with a bad first game. Getting and making 21-of-26 free throws (80.8%) to McGill's 5-of-11 (45.5%) provided an escape hatch.
"The last couple possessions, all we talked about was getting to the basket," said Calgary coach Dan Vanhooren, who will be in his fourth national semifinal but has gone farther.
Cooper had 21 points and nine rebounds, but was an effective 42.9 per cent and had four turnovers. The upshot is his team has two-more championship-side games.
"Thomas has been big for us at the end of games all season, As a fourth-year guard, his experience and athleticism are a big part of that."
Can Calgary take a next step? They could be in tough against Ryerson.
"We're going to have to play better offensively," Vanhooren said. "We had 17 turnovers and only nine assists. That's not going to be enough to beat a team like Ryerson or UBC."
To wit, Calgary got 21 points at the line, some of which overlapped with their 20 off McGill's turnovers. That's not a lot of natural offence..
Impact for/on the Redmen — David DeAveiro's team hung in and represented Quebec well but there's a double edge to that, since they play for McGill, not a conference. Their final three possessions were empty, though, as was the feeling afterward.
"I'm extremely disappointed with the end of the game, we've been over that drill a million times," DeAveiro said. "We turn it over two times. It's not how we drilled it, every day in practice.
"I'm not a coach who calls a timeout, because we do this every day in practice. We just turned the ball over and as a result Calgary won the game. With those two stats, we put them in position to win."
There really wasn't need for a follow-up.
"If we're not disappointed that we lost today, then we're not the program we thought we were, We came here to win a title, not be fifth, not be sixth."
Memo to OUA media: you want this Dave and his team back in your gyms. He's missed in OUA.