February 10, 2013, Winnipeg, MB (ISN) – Canada West’s Prairie Division has somehow gotten even foggier after the #9 Saskatchewan Huskies men’s basketball team defeated the Manitoba Bisons 94-84 on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Investors Group Athletic Centre (U of M campus).
Saskatchewan’s win paired with an Alberta (14-6) loss to Winnipeg means that the Huskies, Bisons, and Golden Bears are all tied atop Canada West’s Prairie Division with 28 points heading into the final week of action. The Winnipeg Wesmen (13-8) and Calgary Dinos (12-8) trail directly behind with 26 and 24 points, respectively. Only the top four teams in the division will qualify for the post-season.
The Bisons (14-7) trailed by double digits in stages of the third and fourth quarter, unable to keep up with Saskatchewan’s (14-6) offensive output. However, the home team got within three points late (less three minutes) thanks to the play of Kevin Oliver and Stephen Walton but Manitoba would not be able to get any closer in a game that did not lack emotion from both sides.
“I thought we couldn’t get stops in the second half defensively. They seemed to score when they wanted to,” said Bisons head coach Kirby Schepp, “We went on a run in the fourth quarter and closed the gap but in the end, you need to get stops on a consistent basis in order to come back.”
Saskatchewan’s Stephon Lamar led all scorers with 37 points. Matt Forbes, the reigning CIS Male Athlete of the Week, had a double-double for the Huskies with 16 points and 11 boards. Walton led the way for Manitoba with 22 points and seven rebounds. Oliver chipped in with an 18 point night.
Manitoba had no answer for Lamar and the Huskies in the first quarter. Lamar, Canada West’s leading scorer entering the weekend, scored 17 in the opening frame and the visitors opened up a 27-17 lead.
Saskatchewan continued to lead by double digits late in the second quarter but a pair of threes from Yigit Ozsayiner helped in trimming the Bisons deficit to three at halftime.
The intensity continued to escalate after the teams came back from the break. A back-and-forth quarter was broken apart in its later stages by the Huskies. A deep three from Andrew Henry restored Saskatchewan’s double digit lead in the final minute of the quarter.
Saskatchewan continued to roll in the fourth, using an effective low post game with Forbes. Missed offensive opportunities hurt the Bisons, who could not find a way to string a run together in the early stages of the fourth. However, Walton’s end-to-end layup with three and a half minutes left cut the Huskies lead to six points.
One minute later, Oliver hit a wide open three to bring the game within three. Saskatchewan was hit with a travelling violation on its next possession, forcing the visitors to call a timeout in front of a now energized home crowd. After a Bisons miss, Forbes converted on a put back to increase the Huskies lead to five.
Manitoba would collect three offensive rebounds on their next possession, including twice from Walton, but could not find a way to get a basket. Saskatchewan would successfully close out the game from the foul stripe on their way to victory.
Manitoba closes out its regular season on Wednesday, Feb. 13 in a crucial game against the Wesmen. Game time is 8 p.m. CT at the Investors Group Athletic Centre. Meanwhile, the Huskies finish off their schedule with a massive two game home set next weekend against the Alberta Golden Bears.