Dinos stuns Rams, advance to CIS basketball final

Calgary upset the top seed Ryerson in the CIS men’s basketball semifinal.

VANCOUVER — Thomas Cooper scored 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the No. 4 Calgary Dinos stunned the top-ranked Ryerson Rams 98-87 on Saturday to book a spot in the title game at the CIS Final 8 men’s basketball tournament.

Calgary will take on No. 2 Carleton in Sunday’s final after the Ravens beat the No. 6 Dalhousie Tigers 76-66 in the other semifinal. Ryerson will meet Dalhousie in the third-place game.

Cooper — a fourth-year guard from Chattanooga, Tenn., who transferred to the Dinos from the University of Nebraska-Kearney this season — finished 10 of 24 from the field, including 3 of 8 from three-point range.

Jasdeep Gill added 23 points for the Dinos, including 4 of 7 shooting from three.

Adika Peter-McNeilly led the way with 22 points and 11 boards for Ryerson, which survived a scare in the opening round against No. 8 UBC, but was unable to overcome another slow start against Calgary.

The Dinos were up 47-38 at halftime, but the Rams cut the deficit to 56-51 midway through the third period. Gill nailed back-to-back threes to stretch his team’s edge to 11. The fourth-year guard from Chestermere, Alta., who comes off the bench, then added another triple as Calgary led 71-61 after three quarters.

Cooper scored 11 points in the first as Calgary grabbed a lead 27-13, and the Dinos were up 44-28 with 2:13 to play in the first half before the Rams went on a 10-0 run.

But the Dinos got the last shot of the opening 20 minutes, with Jhony Verrone nailing another three at the buzzer to give Calgary a nine-point edge at the break.

In the other semifinal, Connor Wood scored 18 points to pace Carleton. The fourth-year guard from Guelph, Ont., was the offensive catalyst, finishing 4 of 9 from three, but it was Carleton’s top-ranked defence that was the difference against Dalhousie for long stretches in the first of two national semifinals.

"That’s our main focus," said Wood. "We’ve got to focus on defence and rebounding. Everything else will take care of itself."

Fourth-year forward Ryan Ejim of Toronto added 20 points for the Ravens, while Kashrell Lawrence, a fourth-year guard from Brampton, Ont., led the Tigers with 18.

Carleton has won the last five Canadian university crowns, and 11 of the last 13, but lost star siblings Philip and Thomas Scrubb to graduation after the 2014-15 season, while head coach Dave Smart stepped away from the program this year on sabbatical.

"We really try to foster a culture of healthy competitiveness where it’s OK to want to fight, it’s OK to want to battle every single day and prove yourself," said Carleton interim head coach Rob Smart, Dave’s nephew. "It doesn’t mean you’re some kind of egomaniac it just means that for those two hours you compete and it’s the most fun thing to do."

Earlier in the day, UBC defeated No. 3 Ottawa 93-76 in the fifth-place game. Third-year forward Conor Morgan of Victoria led the host Thunderbirds with game-high 25 points and eight rebounds.

The Ravens were up 54-46 on the Tigers after three quarters and went on an 9-0 run to start the fourth to lead 66-51 with five minutes to play.

Dalhousie made a push to get to 68-58, but Ejim’s dunk with just over a minute to play made it 74-59 to seal it.

"We had to work so hard to score a basket today," said Dalhousie head coach Rick Plato. "It wasn’t for a lack of effort. The guys played their hearts out.

"My guys have got nothing to be ashamed of."