The final weekend before the winter break was a successful one for the University of Manitoba Bisons basketball program, as the men took both games at home against visiting Lethbridge, while the women secured their first victory of the 2014/15 campaign.
After losing by 23 on Friday night, Manitoba bounced back in a big way in the rematch against Lethbridge on Saturday, successfully handing Michele Hynes her first conference win as head coach of the Bisons program, with a 70-64 victory.
The Bisons were led by captain Robyn Eyer, who played a team leading 26 minutes, and also put up the most points for Manitoba with 24. Both teams had strong accuracy, with Lethbridge shooting 45.5 percent from the field, while Manitoba shot 42.6 percent.
The home squad trailed 17-14 after a back-and-forth first quarter, but would retake the lead for good at 5:43 of the second frame, off of an Eyer three ball. The fifth-year Bison went 5-for-6 from beyond the arc, which helped to consistently keep the momentum with Manitoba.
Lethbridge mounted a late fourth-quarter comeback, cutting the Bison lead to three with 42 seconds left; however, Eyer put the game to bed shortly thereafter, cashing in on both free throw attempts with just 16 seconds left, to ensure the victory for Hynes.
“It was a total team effort,” Hynes told gobisons.ca postgame. “We stuck to a game plan for 40 minutes. This is a good one.”
The men kept on rolling this weekend, taking Friday’s game 79-72, and Saturday’s rematch 81-74. With the pair of victories, the Bisons kept their home winning streak alive, at 6-0.
As has been the case a number of times already this season, Manitoba got out to a quick first quarter lead on Friday, and didn’t relinquish it for all four quarters. The Bisons utilized their speed and quick transition game to stun Lethbridge early and often. Shifty guards AJ Basi and Justus Alleyn led the way for Manitoba, with 20 and 16 points, respectively.
Lethbridge started the fourth quarter on an 8-4 run in the first three minutes and cut the lead down to eight points on a several occasions, but didn’t have enough gas left in the tank to top the Bisons.
Despite the quick tempo offensive game from the Bisons, head coach Kirby Schepp still felt the team could improve.
“That’s definitely what we try to do. We try to run, and get up and down the floor. I thought we did it in spurts tonight,” Schepp said. “I didn’t think we were consistent enough with it, and in the end we’ve just got to make shots.”
Saturday’s game saw co-captain Wyatt Anders explode in the fourth quarter, spearheading a comeback win from Manitoba.
The Bisons found themselves down 37-31 at halftime, thanks to some strong perimeter shooting from Lethbridge, as well as foul trouble on Manitoba’s end. Big men Alfreeman Flowers and Wyatt Anders found themselves heading into the half at three and two fouls, respectively.
The Bisons responded in the final two quarters. Andre Arruda kick started his squad with a pair of treys with just over four minutes left in the third, as the two teams went to the fourth tied at 48. That’s where Anders took control.
The six-foot-seven power forward had seven rebounds in the fourth quarter alone, to go with 11 points. What’s more impressive is the fact that Anders was consistently battling six-foot-ten forward Brent Watkins down low, and for the most part, out-rebounded him.
A combined 59 points were scored in the final quarter, with Manitoba netting 33 of those, en route to the 81-74 win.
“When I got on the court, I just made sure that we weren’t losing this game, so I went after every board, and I made sure we sealed the game,” said Anders on his fourth quarter performance.
Both basketball squads will be off for the winter break, and will return to action Jan. 9 and 10, against two tough Victoria squads.