The University of Manitoba Bisons men’s basketball team ended the first half of their season on a high note, sweeping the Brandon Bobcats on the road this past weekend. The herd never trailed in any of the eight total quarters, coming out on top 86-75 on Friday and 89-72 on Saturday.
Manitoba dominated in the second and third quarters of both games – effectively pulling away from their competition heading into the final ten minutes.
It was the second weekend in a row where the Bisons were able to hold their opponent to under 80 points, as the visitors outrebounded the Bobcats on both nights. The home side was also abysmal from the free throw line – shooting just 63.3 percent in game one and 56.3 percent in game two.
The first quarter of the opening game was a tight battle, as Manitoba held just a two-point lead. The Bisons erupted in the second and third, however, outscoring Brandon 53-38 en route to the win.
Manitoba got a well-rounded performance, with Keith Omoerah, AJ Basi, Justus Alleyn, and Wyatt Anders all cracking double digits in scoring.
While Brandon also had four players score more than 10 points – including forward Earl Thompson Jr. with a game-high 21 – the difference was shooting percentage, where the herd shot 52.3 percent compared to the Bobcats’ 38.5 percent. Alleyn, the leading scorer for the visitors with 18 points, shot 7-of-12 from the field, while Anders was 6-of-9 with 13 points.
The rebounding battle was closer on Friday, as the visitors held a tight 43-37 advantage. Anders led the way, recording another double-double with 14 boards. The versatile power forward got some help, though, as swingman Omoerah added a double-double of his own, contributing 11 rebounds.
Manitoba completed the sweep in game two, thanks to well-distributed scoring yet again. The herd had five players with more than 10 points – led by Basi with 18 and fellow guard Ilarion Bonhomme II with 15, who had a tremendous game off the bench, adding six assists, four steals, and three rebounds in 16 minutes of play.
For Bonhomme, the game against the Bobcats was a return to familiar confines, as he played with Brandon for three seasons, starting in 2011-12 where he was named Canada West Rookie of the Year and was also appointed to the CIS All-Rookie team.
Additionally, the herd won the battle in the post once again, with 45 rebounds compared to the home side’s 33. Brandon limited Anders to just six boards, however his teammates stepped up, as all but one player managed to record a rebound.
Defensively, Manitoba held all but two Bobcats players to less than 10 points. Those same two players – Thompson Jr. and guard Troy Grant – were the only members of their squad to have more than 10 shot attempts.
Once more, the game was close after one quarter, with the Bisons up 20-17 before separating in the second and third quarters for a second straight contest, outscoring Brandon 51-33.
The entire conference now breaks for holidays. Manitoba’s first games back will occur on Jan. 8 and 9 on the road against Victoria.