The University of Manitoba Bisons men’s basketball team made a huge statement on Friday night at Investor’s Group Athletic Centre, snapping the visiting Winnipeg Wesmen’s six game conference winning streak and increasing their own streak to four. Manitoba never trailed in the contest, winning 79-65 and also claimed the 25th annual Duckworth Challenge in the process. It was the sixth time in the last seven years that the challenge was won by the Bisons.
AJ Basi led the way once more for the home side on offence, finishing with a game-high 23 points – 18 of which were scored from beyond the arc. Guard Denzel Lynch-Blair was Winnipeg’s leading scorer with 20 points, but was limited in the transition game – an area where he tends to be most effective.
Manitoba shot an astounding 47 percent from the field and led by an average of at least 10 points after every quarter. Basi was able to get going early from outside and that opened up Keith Omoerah, who had success driving into the lane and finished with 17 points as well as a team leading nine rebounds. Discipline was another major key, as neither team had more than nine free throw attempts overall.
The contest also saw the return of Ilarion Bonhomme II, who played 19 minutes off the bench for the herd and contributed 12 points – eight of which occurred in the opening quarter. It was also the first time Bonhomme had the opportunity to be part of the Bison/Wesmen rivalry, after three seasons with the Brandon Bobcats.
“It was awesome, we’re always excited about game day but it was just a little bit different,” Bonhomme said postgame when asked about the Duckworth Challenge. “To see how excited the guys were about it, it was awesome to be a part of.”