They shot the lights out in the first half, and had the home crowd in the frenzy down the stretch, but in the end, the University of Calgary Dinos only managed to escape with a 93-92 over the Trinity Western Spartans Saturday night in the Jack Simpson Gym in Calgary.
After shooting 60 per cent, including an otherworldly 81.8 per cent from beyond the arc, and putting up 60 points in the opening half, the Dinos carried a 15-point lead into the break.
But the Spartans, led by a 36-point effort from Tonner Jackson, gave the Dinos all they could handle in the late going as TWU piled up 28 points in the fourth quarter.
The visitors had the ball with less than five seconds to go, but nearly 10 minutes and three time outs later, Tyler Linttell's desperation jump shot at the buzzer fell off the front rim.
"It was a game of two halves. I'm proud of how the guys played in the second half. We are trying to get over 20 assists in a game - when we do that we win. We had 10 assists in the second half, but it was a little too late," TWU head coach Scott Allen said. "We are young and we are learning each week on how to get better. Both Tyler and Tonner had great games tonight."
Allen said the Spartans' strength is in being able to move the ball around and depend on each other.
"When we do that we have success. But we still have a chance to make the playoffs so we will get back at it this week," added Allen.
The Dinos improve to .500 on the season at 7-7 and keep their playoff hopes alive in the Canada West Prairie Division, while the Spartans fall to 5-9 on the campaign and fifth place in the Pacific Division, one game out of a playoff spot.
TWU, at 5-9, trail fourth place Thompson Rivers at 6-9 and third place Fraser Valley at 7-7. The Spartans have two games against each team remaining on the schedule.
Calgary point guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson finished just three rebounds and two assists shy of a triple-double, pacing the Dinos with an outstanding 28-point performance that included only a seven-second break at the end of the first half.
Tyler Lintell added a double-double for the Spartans, the second of his career, with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
TWU's leading scorer Mark Perrin was held to 12 points on the night, more than nine points shy of his 21.5 season average.
The Dinos made 21 field goals including nine threes in the first 20 minutes.
All night, though, the Dinos had all kinds of match-up issues with third-year Spartans' forward Tonner Jackson, who used his size and strength to power his way to a 36-point outing on 16-of-27 shooting from the field.
Critically, however, Jackson fouled out with less than two minutes remaining, joining Perrin on the bench with five fouls for the final minutes.
The pair accounted for 48 of the Spartans' 92 points on the night and were unavailable for the final thrust.
And yet the Spartans almost managed to win, anyway.
Linttell hit a three with 35 seconds to play to bring Trinity Western within one, and an awkward fadeaway by Ogungbemi-Jackson missed the mark on the other end of the floor to set up the extended finale.
After the Dinos checked the ball out of bounds with 4.1 seconds left, both teams used a time out.
With a foul to give, Ogungbemi-Jackson alertly committed an infraction to keep the Spartans from shooting the ball - eating up two seconds in the process - and after a final time out, Linttell was unable to get a good look at the game-winning shot as the Dinos' bench exhaled.
The TWU men used a strong start, a dominant finish, and some hot shooting to defeat the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns 96-72 Friday night at the 1st Choice Savings Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta.
The Spartans who only won two of their first nine Canada West games, improved to 5-8, while Lethbridge has lost four of their last five and falls to 6-7.
"Everything that we did today we did really strong. Our strength is our whole team and the guys really distributed the ball well," Allen said, following the win. "Tonight was a good win for the guys and we will hope to do the same thing tomorrow."
Third-year guard Mark Perrin was electric for the Spartans, notching 33 points on 12-18 shooting, including seven from beyond the arc, and also pulled down 11 boards.
Third-year forward Denny McDonald supported his effort with 17 points of his own and three other Spartans hit for double figures.
FINAL BUZZER: The Spartans head home to host the Mount Royal University Cougars this Friday and Saturday.