Shawn Maranan did what no other Winnipeg Wesmen has ever done, and now his team is going back to nationals for the second straight year.

Maranan, the fourth-year all-star guard, set a Canada West post-season record with 18 assists and the Wesmen men's basketball team outscored the Calgary Dinos 19-9 in overtime to win its conference semifinal 103-93 at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.

The victory puts the Wesmen in the conference championship game Sunday at 8 p.m. and guarantees Winnipeg a berth in the Final 8 in Quebec City March 8-10, marking U of W's second trip in a row to the U Sports nationals.

It's also the second straight season the Wesmen have secured a berth in nationals with a win at IGAC, having beaten the Manitoba Bisons a year ago nearly to the day — 364 days to be exact — in a win-to-get-in game. 

And, for the second straight year, the Wesmen will play the Victoria Vikes in the championship game after Vic beat the Cinderella UNBC Timberwolves in the earlier semifinal on Saturday. 

But the finale of the night was an instant classic, with Winnipeg overcoming a 12-point deficit in the final 14 minutes, taking a four-point lead in the final minute of the fourth, and Calgary eventually forcing overtime. 

The Wesmen trailed for nearly the entire first half and were perhaps fortunate to go into the break down only 43-37 with Calgary's lead hovering between nine and 12 points for most of the second quarter. 

And that advantage continued through much of the third before the Wesmen finally made a run, going on a 13-4 spurt to cut the Dinos' lead to 67-64 with a minute left. The Dinos bumped the lead to five going into the fourth, but a quick 6-0 burst gave Winnipeg its first lead since it was 2-0 a few seconds into the game. 

The lead flipped back and fourth through the rest of the fourth and the Wesmen looked to have gained a significant edge when Kato Jaro hit a 3 to make it 84-80 with just over a minute to go. But Nate Petrone hit a running jumper, the Dinos got a stop and Nate Wharton made two free throws to force overtime.

There, however, the Wesmen dominated. After the teams traded buckets in the first couple of possessions, the Wesmen went on the biggest run of their season, outscoring the Dinos 13-0 over the next 2:47 including back-breaking 3's from Donald Stewart and Malachi Alexander as the Wesmen poured it on.

Maranan was named player of the game after scoring 21 points and setting the new benchmark for assists in a playoff game bettering the record of 17 set by former Wesmen Andrew Cunningham in 2013. 

But the Wesmen got plenty of big efforts beyond that: Stewart, who had just two points at half, came alive with 13 in the third quarter and finished with 20 points and six rebounds; Malachi Alexander scored 20 points, his fifth straight game in double figures; and Mikhail Mikhailov scored eight of his 16 points in the fourth quarter while adding 12 rebounds.

Nate Petrone, the Dinos' dynamic all-star guard, scored 26 points on 10-for-16 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. Dylan Lutes scored 16, Gurshan Sran 12, Javier Ramos-Yzquierdo 11, and Noah Wharton and Spencer Roberts 10 apiece, although Wharton's came on 2-for-12 shooting. 

The Dinos, the country's top three-point shooting team at 37.9 per cent on the season, were held to 8-for-27 from three, their least efficient night in Canada West play since they shot 28.6 per cent in a win against Saskatchewan, Nov. 25. 

It was also just Calgary's second loss in its past 16 games against Canada West opponents. 


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