The U of M Bisons basketball clubs continued the home opening weekend against the Mount Royal University Cougars with a pair of wins on Saturday. Taylor Randall led the women to a 73-69 win to series sweep, while the men earned a split with an 81-69 win.
Randall leads herd to comeback win
The women rallied from a ten-point deficit at halftime and completed the weekend sweep Saturday with a four-point win over the Cougars.
Randall led the Bisons with 19 points, while Nicole Konieczny and Claire Harvey each put up a double-double stat line for the home team.
“First half we didn’t come out strong enough,” said Randall.
“In the second half it was nothing tactical that we changed,” she said. “It was just work hard, get those loose balls, and get those rebounds.”
With the Bisons already out to an early 6-5 lead in the opening quarter, Deidre Bartlett connected on two free-throws to start a 9-0 run by the herd. Manitoba forced eight turnovers in the quarter, helping them to an 18-10 lead.
The visitors came out strong in the second frame with an 8-0 run, led by a pair of buckets from Sydney Tabin. Manitoba could not get anything to fall in the second quarter — shooting one-for-20 from field-goal range — while the Cougars took advantage and led 33-23 at halftime.
Bisons forward Emma Thompson left the game in the second quarter with an injury and did not return.
“The reality is this group’s dealt with [injuries] a lot, but it’s never fun to lose a key player,” said Bisons head coach Michele Sung. “I think that Emma is going to be really diligent with trying to get back, but we’ll make some adjustments.”
The teams exchanged looks throughout the third quarter, until the Bisons strung together an 8-0 run to cut the lead to one point at 51-50.
Manitoba opened the fourth quarter with another eight-point run to take a 58-51 lead. The Cougars cut the lead down to three late in the game, but Brooke Evason was able to connect on one of her two free throws and ice the game at the free-throw line.
“It was like ‘Keep sticking to the game plan and once we execute it, we’ll have success with it’ — and that’s what happened,” said Sung.
The men’s team was able to put a Friday loss behind them quickly to get a weekend split with an 81-69 victory Saturday.
Andre Arruda and Rashawn Browne led the herd with 17 points each, while Glen Yang scored a game-high 20 points for the visitors.
Malik Irwin was a beast in the defensive zone, blocking three shots and making two steals in the game.
“That was his best defensive game of the year,” said Bisons head coach Kirby Schepp.
“His energy level, his activity level in the defensive end, he was physical, he was into guys and that’s definitely what we need from him.”
The Bisons came out fast, opening with a 10-3 run, with James Wagner and Arruda each putting up five points. Both teams struggled to score in the opening frame as a whole, with the Bisons taking a 15-14 lead into the second quarter.
The second period featured another strong start for Manitoba. The Bisons opened with a 12-0 run that was fuelled by a block made by Arruda that eventually resulted in a Keiran Zziwa trey.
Leading 27-14 early in the quarter, Manitoba did not look back and maintained a 13-point lead at halftime.
The second half featured some back-and-forth action. Cougars forward LJ Hegwood was unstoppable — putting up 10 points in the third quarter alone — and was enough to cut the Bisons’ lead to eight points entering the final quarter.
There was good ball movement throughout and the fourth quarter was no different. Browne hit a three-point shot early, just one of the Bisons’ 13 threes in the game.
“We had seven different guys make a three-point shot,” said Schepp. “Anytime you can do that, that helps spread the offence around a little bit.”
Manitoba’s last basket of the game was made on a beautiful inside pass from Arruda, with DJ Jordan Jr. finishing it off to give the Bisons the 81-69 win.
The Manitoba squads will host the UBC Thunderbirds during the Nov. 9-10 weekend. The women play first, with tip-off at 6 p.m. CST on Friday and 5 p.m. CST Saturday, while the men play at 8 p.m. CST and 7 p.m. CST respectively.