By Esther E. Steeves

Items periodically go missing when people steal on campus. In January, 392 thefts occurred at U of C. Apparently the University of Alberta has a similar problem; on Sun., Feb. 23, the Dinos men’s basketball team was robbed of a victory.

Last weekend the Dinos played their final playoff games of the year against the U of A Golden Bears. In regular season play, U of C was 1-3 against the Bears, but steady improvement over the last two months prepared them to enter the division final with as much skill as their competition.

They earned their way to Edmonton with victories over University of Regina, the top Plains Division team, as well as the second place Pacific Division Trinity Western Spartans. Also, the Dinos swept the U of L Pronghorns on Feb. 14-15 at the Jack Simpson 96-89 and 82-72 to win the Mountain Division’s first round of playoffs. The Dinos travelled to U of A to compete for the division title, but the Golden Bears proved their worth Fri., Feb 22, winning 89-74. Saturday night, the Dinos proved theirs with a 78-63 victory, driving the best-of-three weekend competition to a third game.

Sunday’s game was evenly matched, ending in a tie that sent the game into overtime.

Here comes the rant. First off, this should have never been a tie. The Dinos were up by five with less than ten seconds on the clock when the referee called a foul on a clean steal by Dinos guard Whit Hornsberger. That’s fine. Refs make mistakes. Alberta’s Mike Melnychuk hit all three free-throws and reduced the lead to two.

What happened next, however, was a disgrace. Dino Chris Harris had five seconds to inbound the ball except the ref gave him three and a half. The whistle blew before Harris could call a time out and Melnychuk went to the charity stripe for two more. Tie game.

“Players should decide the game, not referees,” said guard Aman Heran, who was frustrated by the penalties.

“We were shafted,” he added.

With the momentum swinging in Alberta’s direction, it is no surprise the Golden Bears won the game in overtime. The Dinos lost by one point with 0.9 seconds remaining on–you guessed it–another Melnychuk free throw.

“We had the personnel and the talent to win,” agreed forward Ian Ferguson. “But the victory slipped.”

None of the players available for comment were satisfied with the weekend’s results–and understandably so. Unfulfilled goals and bitter frustration prevail, as Trinity Western and U of R will compete in the division finals this weekend at UBC for a chance to travel to nationals. That’s because Regina won a division title and Trinity was handed the last playoff berth through a wild-card process. The Dinos had regular season victories over Trinity and played in a tougher division, but the Spartans finished the season 12-8 and the Dinos could only muster 11-9.

Unfortunately, while stolen objects can sometimes be recovered, there are no authorities able to restore the men’s victory. The Golden Bears will play at UBC this weekend in the final four, while the Dinos attempt to forget the devastating end to the most promising season they’ve had in years.

Next year the team will remain largely unchanged, losing only one key player (fifth-year Chris Harris). Let’s hope the Dinos translate this championship-worthy season into a championship-winning one in 2004.

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