A 20-point second half by forward Kyle Coston sent the Trinity Western University Spartans into the CIS men's basketball championship game to face the Carleton Ravens.
Trinity Western beat the University of British Columbia 74-72 in a Saturday semifinal at the Final 8 tournament in Halifax. Carleton was a 95-83 winner over the University of Saskatchewan.
Coston finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds and made the winning shot, a three-pointer with 12 seconds left in the game. First team all-Canadian Jacob Doerksen added 16 points and Calvin Westbrook had 15 for the Langley, B.C. school.
Guard Alex Murphy had 21 points for UBC, while Nathan Yu had 14 and Kamar Burke 13. Burke had a three-point shot at the buzzer rim out.
Coston said he couldn't remember playing so well in such an important game.
"Not on this big a stage, definitely not," said Coston, in his first year at TWU. "I played Division I basketball for three years down in Portland, went to two March Madness tournaments, but performing like this, on this type of stage is great. The fans in Halifax, it's amazing."
The Spartans trailed 39-30 at half time after allowing UBC to go the length of the court in the last five seconds to score a lay-in at the buzzer.
"The morale was down a little bit at halftime," Coston said. "We fought hard that first half, and to have that happen...I think it put the fire under our butts a little bit. We didn't come all this way to get beat."
The game was the third meeting of the season between the two Canada West teams. The first two games were won by UBC, one quite easily, and TWU coach Scott Allen said that fact probably was in his team's favour.
"It's always hard to win three games in a row. I wouldn't want to be in that position because you've got everything to lose," said Allen, who had a preference as to who he would rather face in Sunday's final.
"Carleton, because my assistant coach went there," the coach said. "It would mean everything to him."
CIS player of the year Tyson Hinz led Carleton over Saskatchewan with 32 points and nine rebounds. For Hinz, 18 of his points came in the second half as he dominated in the post.
"Sometimes I feel more comfortable in the perimeter, sometimes I'm more comfortable in the post," he said. "I was feeling the post today, so we went with it."
CIS rookie of the year Phillip Scrubb had 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Ravens, who also got 13 points from Cole Hobin and 12 from Elliot Thompson.
Carleton coach Dave Smart said a good part of his pre-game preparation for the final will have to do with Doerksen.
"We played him six years ago in the national final [when Doerkson played at Victoria] and he was a bugger back then," said Smart. "So I can't imagine he's anything but ten times better now. We've watched a lot of tape, we know what they're about, and they're a really tough matchup for us."
The win was Carleton's 19th straight at the Halifax Metro Centre, a streak that dates back to a quarter-final loss to McMaster in 2001.
Saskatchewan's dynamic backcourt duo led the Huskies, Jamelle Barrett scoring 28 points and Rejean Chabot 26. But Saskatchewan missed 17 free throws.
In consolation play, Dalhousie got 21 points, seven assists and 10 rebounds from second team all-Canadian guard Simon Farine in a 76-65 win over Concordia. The Stingers were led by the 20-point performance of Decee Krah. It was Dalhousie's first ever win at the national tournament.
Lakehead made ten three-pointers to beat Acadia 75-67. Venzal Russell had 29 points for the Thunderwolves, and Owen Klassen 26 for the Axemen.