Dinos flying high into CW playoffs

"The legal way to break the speed limit: Linnae Bee."

"No Payne, no game."

"Ever seen your fears in living colour? Welcome to Doan’s house."

"Altitude with attitude: Anna Bekkering."

"Ya think ya can beat Calgary? How cute."

"Three reasons you wish you weren’t playing the Dinos: 1) Jen can shoot, 2) Jen can drive, 3) Jennifer Goldade will take you to school."

"Where’s Rena? She just scored on ya."

Dinos basketball fans who went to the Jack Simpson Gymnasium last weekend to see the third-ranked Dinos host the second-ranked University of Regina Cougars were greeted with these slogans. As the story goes, a student from residence recruited her floor to put the banners together. The question is, were they inspirational?

"They were to me," said second-year post player Laura Jablonski. "They made me more confident and made me lighten up a little, too."

The Dinos used the inspiration from the banners to their advantage on Friday as they beat the Cougars 83-68. Leighann Doan led the hosts with 32 points, while starting guards Linnae Bee and Cathy Payne added 11 and 10 respectively.

Perhaps new banners should have been made for Saturday’s game, because the Cougars came back to win 70-63. Doan again led the Dinos with 22 points, followed by Jennifer Goldade and Jill Bekar, who each had 11.

"Regina was a little hungrier than we were [on Saturday]," said coach Shawnee Harle. "I thought we got what we deserved.

"Saturday, what bothered me the most was that we spent too much time trading baskets. If we had been able to play tougher at the defensive end and stop trading baskets, we could have taken a lead."

"On Friday, we got away with not playing defence the whole time," added Jablonski. "On Saturday, that caught up with us. It was a lesson for us to play 40 minutes."

The Dinos were able to shut down Regina’s top player, Corrin Wersta, limiting her to 12 points each night.

Visitors to the gym last weekend, had they been able to take their eyes off the banners, may have noticed the Dinos carrying hard hats around after the games and wondered why.

"Half way through the season Shawnee came up with the metaphor of going to work and wearing our hard hats," Jablonski explained. "When the talent levels out, what separates the teams is hard work. Then she surprised us with the hats and brought it to life."

With the playoffs approaching, Harle is putting an emphasis on team defence as a way to win the Canada West title. The Dinos have more offensive weapons than any other team in the conference and put up more points than any other team in the regular season, but Harle’s not putting a lot of stock in those numbers.

"I’ve always been a believer that defence wins championships," she said. "It’s the part of the game you have the most control over."

The Dinos have a bye this week as their semifinal opponent is determined. It could be any one of the universities of Saskatchewan, British Columbia or Alberta, with the latter being the most likely. Harle is glad the team has a week off.

"It’s going to be to our advantage," she explained. "We’ve got a chance to get the well filled back up both physically and mentally."

Jablonski thinks the Dinos will be able to tackle anything that stands between them and the cw title.

"I think we’re going to use the loss [to Regina] to our advantage," said Jablonksi. "It showed us what we need to do. If we play like I know we can, we can win. It’s up to us."

While the U of A Pandas will pose the greatest challenge to the Dinos among their possible opponents, Jablonski is looking forward to playing them.

"I want to show them that the first time we beat them [in January] wasn’t a fluke."

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