WINNIPEG, MB – It all came down to the final seconds of Friday, Jan. 27 night's men's basketball matchup between the University of Manitoba Bisons and the UNBC Timberwolves, but the Bisons came out on top 86-85 at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
With the win, Manitoba improves to 9-6 in Canada West play. The Bisons have now won seven in a row in conference play and 10 in a row, counting non-conference play. UNBC falls to 4-11 with their seventh consecutive loss.
"At times our intensity was good, but we didn't necessarily play smart," Bison head coach Kirby Schepp said. "Give (UNBC) credit. They shot the heck out of the ball. They really, really shot it well the whole game.
"We're lucky that we turned them over … and they coughed it up a couple times, and that basically is what got it for us.
UNBC's Marcus MacKay led both teams with 28 points, including eight three-pointers. AJ Basi put up 23 points for Manitoba.
The lead changed 10 times in the first quarter as the Bisons and Timberwolves battled to get ahead. With the game tied at 13, UNBC's Vaggelis Loukas hit a three-pointer to make it 16-13. The Bisons fired right back, scoring on a pair of free throws and then jump shots from Basi and James Wagner. MacKay tied it up again at 19 on a three-point shot, but Basi netted a jumper to give Manitoba a 21-19 lead heading to the second.
Basi dominated the start of the next quarter. UNBC opened the second with a pair of three-pointers, but the Bison veteran sank a three-point shot of his own and then two jumpers to keep Manitoba ahead. Technical difficulties with the scoreboard caused an extended delay late in the half, but the Bisons never lost momentum. Manitoba closed out the second quarter up 50-41.
But the Timberwolves caught up in the third. After a string of disputed calls saw the Bisons lose possession, UNBC brought the game within three on a MacKay three-point jump shot that cut Manitoba's lead to 55-52. The Timberwolves later made it a one-point game before overtaking the Bisons 63-62 when Tyrell Laing sunk a jump shot. The game stayed neck-and-neck through the rest of the third, but the visitors came out on top 72-70.
The game came down to the wire in the fourth. Justus Alleyn tipped one in to bring the Bisons within one, but he followed with a foul, and MacKay made both resulting free throws to bring UNBC ahead 85-82. From there, solid defence from Keith Omoerah helped keep Manitoba alive. Ilarion Bonhomme tied the game and then gave Manitoba an 86-85 lead when he sunk a pair of free throws – just enough to win it.
The two-game weekend set continues on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. CT at Investors Group Athletic Centre.