Welcome back from reading week — it’s Bison Briefs!

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Basketball

The men’s basketball team finished their season on Feb. 11 with an 88-65 loss to the University of Winnipeg Wesmen. The Bisons outscored their opponents 24-13 in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit and defeat the Wesmen who earned their first victory of the regular season. With the loss, the men’s team concludes conference play with a record of 4-16, two spots outside of the playoff picture.

Feb. 12 saw the women’s team end their season on an exciting note as Maria Pawlyshyn drained a last minute three-pointer to help Manitoba beat Winnipeg by a score of 72-69. Throughout the season the women were able to compile an 8-12 record but, like the men, still sit two spots out of the playoffs.

Hockey

In hockey both the men’s and women’s teams got back to action after a mid-February bye week.

The men played visitor to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in back-to-back games last weekend. In both games Saskatchewan beat Manitoba by a score of 4-1, as the Huskies used the victories over the Bisons to get a stranglehold on the second overall spot for the opening round of the Canada West playoffs. Prior to the weekend’s action both Manitoba and Saskatchewan had been tied for second place in Canada West standing with 30 points each. The Bisons need one more point to solidify a playoff berth and will look to secure that spot as they conclude regular season play with a two game home series against the University of Regina Cougars Feb. 26-27 at the Max Bell Arena.

The women’s team didn’t fare much better over the weekend as they ended their regular season dropping back-to-back games to the University of Alberta Pandas by scores of 3-1 and 3-0. In the last of the two games Alberta forward Tarin Podloski made history, setting a new all-time CIS record for points. Podloski is finishing her fifth and final year of eligibility in CIS competition and has amassed a total of 91 goals and 122 assists for a total of 213 points over that time span. Following their final regular season game, the women’s team is set to open the Canada West semi-finals hosting the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in a best of three series that begins at the Max Bell Arena Feb. 25 at 7 p.m..

Soccer

Exciting offseason news for Bisons athletes Desiree Scott and Caley Miskimmin as both have been named to the Canadian National Women’s Soccer team that will participate in the 2010 Cyprus Women’s Cup.

The tournament begins Feb. 24 and runs until March 3. Canada opens tournament play against Switzerland then moves on to face England and South Africa before the final playoff match.

Swimming

Riley Pickerl looked impressive at the CIS Swimming Championships in Toronto, as the Bison rookie smashed several U of M swimming records and broke into the top five in the men’s 1500 m freestyle.

Pickerl set Bison records in the 1500 m freestyle (15:39.89), the 200 m freestyle (1:50.86), the 400 m freestyle (3:54.42) and the 200 m backstroke (2:03.23).

Track and field

Women’s track and field competitor Alex Allen was named Smitty’s Bison Sports Athlete of the Week for her effort in the 2010 Queen City Kinsmen Indoor Classic on Feb. 12-13. Allen qualified for the 2010 CIS Nationals by tying for second place in the women’s pole vault event, landing a 3.62m jump that won her the fifth overall spot in the latest CIS rankings.

The track and field team returns to action on Feb. 24 for a Grand Prix at the Max Bell Fieldhouse before the Canada West Championship on Feb. 26-27 in Edmonton.

Volleyball

In volleyball, the men’s team swept their series against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies over Feb. 12-13. In the last two games of their regular season the Bisons defeated the Huskies 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 25-15) in the Friday game and 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-16) on the following Saturday. Going into the playoffs, Manitoba is seated in the seventh and final playoff spot and will travel to Calgary Feb. 25 for the Canada West quarter final to face the Dinos in a best-of-three series.

The women’s team began post-season play last weekend defeating Calgary twice in a row over the 20-21st to earn a spot in the Canada West final four. The Bisons took a 3-1 (25-18, 27-25, 15-25, 25-15) victory on Friday and followed it up with an impressive 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-15) series clincher the next day.

Manitoba will be entering the final four series as the second overall seed but will also enjoy the privilege of hosting duties, as the Vancouver Olympics have nullified top-seeded UBC’s chance at home court advantage. Playoff action resumes Feb. 26-27 at the Investors Group Athletic Centre, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. both days.