The University of Manitoba Bisons men’s basketball team made a huge statement on Saturday night at Investor’s Group Athletic Centre, knocking off top dog UBC in emphatic fashion 66-64.
While the score may look deceiving, Manitoba was the clear aggressor – dictating the tempo for 35 of 40 minutes. The herd took the lead late in the first quarter and never looked back, leading by as much as 15 at one point. The Thunderbirds made a late fourth quarter charge, pulling the Bison lead to within two in the final minute, but couldn’t get the go-ahead shot to fall.
The home side was led by Justus Alleyn who did everything asked of him and more. The six-foot-two point guard was excellent on defence with eight rebounds and three blocks, while adding a team-high 21 points. Forward Conor Morgan was the leading point-getter for either side, finishing with 22 points and keeping the game close in the final 10 minutes.
Despite being heavily undersized (UBC’s forwards stood at an average height of six-foot-eight, Manitoba’s tallest defender is six-foot-seven), Manitoba used their quickness and up-tempo style to frustrate the visitors and kept them from playing a meticulous game in the post.
Defensively, Keith Omoerah, Wyatt Anders, and Jonathan Alexander kept the gigantic Thunderbird post-players at bay for the most part, while UBC’s playmaking guards Jordan Jensen-Whyte and Phil Jalalpoor were held to a combined 14 points.
The win also marks the second consecutive game where the Bisons have held their opponent to under 65 points, and the third time on the season.
“It’s [defensive play] our main focus all season,” Alleyn said post-game when asked about the results from the past two weekend sets. “Everyday we work on defence for half our practice, so it’s nice to see it pay off because it’s tiring in practice.”
With the win, the Bisons advance to 8-3, while UBC falls to 8-3, putting the two squads in a tie for second place just behind Calgary. Manitoba will go for the sweep tomorrow night at 6 p.m., hoping to take one step further in their quest to host a home playoff game.