The University of Manitoba men’s basketball team looked for revenge on Friday night, as they opened up regular season play in Calgary. Last season the herd were eliminated from the final four after losing to the Dinos, a loss that was still fresh in their minds. The Bisons opened up the season with an upset victory over the second-ranked Dinos, winning 85-81.
The Bisons were led by captains Justus Alleyn and AJ Basi. Alleyn had a team-high 25 points, and went four-for-four from behind the three-point line. He also connected on seven of his ten free throws which helped the herd to hold the lead. Basi finished with 21 points, most of which came from beyond the three-point line as well, as he nailed six of his ten attempts.
Calgary guard Thomas Cooper led the way for the home side with 39 points. Cooper was 14-for-24 on field goals, and added seven free throws on his 13 attempts. Cooper was a workhorse for his team; he played 37 minutes and led in scoring for the Dinos. Lars Schlueter was second with only 12 points.
Manitoba had a very good opening half, as Alleyn led the team in the first quarter with 11 points and cashed all three of his three-point attempts. There was a lot of back and forth action in the first quarter which included three lead changes, but the Bisons took a 19-16 lead into the second quarter. The herd expanded the lead in the second frame and took a 42-32 lead into halftime.
In the second half, Alleyn and Basi each had 12 points and the team expanded their lead to a game-high 16 points, leading 71-55 in the fourth quarter. But late in the fourth, the Dinos made an epic comeback as they had an 11-to-one run to cut the lead down to six. From then on it was a free throw battle for the Bisons. They did well enough and walked away with the 85-81 victory in Calgary.
The two teams will play again Saturday night, as the Bisons attempt to sweep the opening weekend.