Manitoba busted out of the gate making 6 of their first 8 threes en route to an early 16 point lead and generally cruised to a 79-65 win at home against cross-town rival Winnipeg in the 25th Duckworth Challenge game that puts the Bisons on the brink of a first-round playoff bye and a home quarter-final series for the first time in the Kirby Schepp era at U of M. Before what looked like a jam-packed crowd, Winnipeg’s six-game Canada West winning streak was snapped as 6’0″ A.J. Basi rolled out of the gate, knocking down four first-quarter 3’s while 6’1″ Ilarion Bonhomme, back after a long stint on the injured list, added a pair as Bisons built a quick lead that was rarely threatened thereafter. Once again, Manitoba got a solid, all-conference-esque performance from 6’4″ Keith Omoerah who finished with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in 34 minutes. Basi led all scorers with 23 points (6 for 13 from downtown) as Manitoba shot 54% from three point land and 49% overall in taking a big halftime lead which swelled to as many as 19 late in the third quarter.
In other games, Regina (9-6) hammered UVic 85-73 in a game that Cougars led by 32 late in the third quarter. Cougars shot 49% from the floor against the normally air-tight Vikes “d” including 10 of 22 from downtown as Jonathan Tull led all scorers with 23 points. UVic, Canada West champions last season and CIS Final 4 participants, are now 7-10 and on the verge of missing the playoffs in Canada West. A loss this evening in Regina by UVic will all but eliminate the Vikes from post-season contention.
Saskatchewan got a steal and breakaway dunk from freshman Chan De Ciman in the final minute which turned out to be the difference in a 77-76 win over last place Brandon, keeping the Huskies faint playoff hopes alive. Huskies were Canada West’s other Nationals representative last season. Like Vic, Sask has 10 losses and needs wins in their final 5 games to have any hope of qualifying.
Alberta moved to 8-8, hanging on to the final playoff position – albeit a less precarious after Vic’s loss – with a win over Trinity Western while first-place Calgary moved closer to clinching with a 10 point win over Lethbridge, which remains comfortably in a playoff position.
All teams play again this evening with UBC enjoying this week’s bye.
In the Explorer Division, first-place Thompson Rivers, which has already clinched the division regular season crown, shook off a tough start to defeat UNBC.