Third-year guard Justus Alleyn was key down the stretch, getting to the rim and knocking in the dagger 3 from the left wing to help the Bisons hold off Lethbridge 87-77 as Day One of the 49th Wesmen Classic drew to a close. Pronghorns came back from a 15 point first half deficit, cutting the lead to 4 midway through the fourth quarter on two separate occasions but could not get over the hump – the mediocre officiating crew did not help either teams cause. Lethbridge was hampered by a terrible job on the defensive glass giving Bisons numerous second chances.
With Bisons up 65-61, Lethbridge’s Brandon Brine had what looked like a clean “pin up” block on Alleyn’s drive to the rim – in fact it appeared that Alleyn’s left hand helped him push off. Inexplicably, one official called an intentional foul on Brine – one of numerous mysterious calls on both sides in the second half that left most scratching their collective heads. When Lethbridge coach Mike Hansen disputed the call – without any cursing – a second official came flying over and, again very inexplicably – Teed up the surprised Horns coach. After the ensuing free throws and next possession, the Bisons lead was back up to 9.
The Horns did get it back to 4 one more time as Brine got to the rim and 6’0″ Dejon Burdeaux wreaked havoc on the defensive end jumping the passing lane and creating turnovers for easy scores. But Alleyn was not to be denied, knocking down a huge 3 to seal it with about 2 minutes remaining.
Lethbridge has a nice pair of veteran guards: Jared Baker fouled out with about 4 minutes remaining on another weak call – off the ball with the shot clock winding down and his man not involved in the play; and Rob Olsen who has a nice feel for the game but lacks explosiveness off the dribble to create consistently. Brine has athleticism, can knock down 3’s and is a high potential rebounder, however it is clear that the defensive glass was tonight and promises to be a huge problem for Lethbridge. Hansen gave 6’9″ 300 lbs center Carl Hoffman ample time in an effort to add a rim protecting rebounder. Hoffman struggled to finish around the rim but showed some promise after not seeing much court time in the first half.
Manitoba also got a nice effort from 6’4″ Keith Omoerah who I believe had 19 points by halftime. No stats available yet.
The Bisons now face hometown Winnipeg which slammed NAIT in the earlier game.