Zachary Worden, Cougars Athletics
CALGARY, Alta – The Manitoba Bisons made their way to Kenyon Court to tip-off a weekend series with the Mount Royal Cougars.
Tensions were high all night for both teams, as a back and forth affair ended up in a second overtime period. The Cougars were able to come away with an 83-81 victory after a three with 13 seconds put them ahead.
The Cougars had four players scoring in double-digits as LG Hegwood finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, Josh Ross finished with 15 points, 17 rebounds and a double-double, Glen Yang had 15 points and nine rebounds and Chan Gill finished with 16 points including the game-winning shot.
The Bisons were led by Justus Alleyn who finished with 20 points. Rashawn Browne and James Wagner both finished with double-doubles, as Browne had 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Wagner finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cougars came out of the gate playing with lots of energy and breaking out to an early lead. The aggressive defense of the Cougars led to some early turnovers helping them take control of the game. Hegwood and Ross led the Cougar attack combining for 13 points in the quarter. The Bisons were able to withstand the early Cougar energy and keep the game within reach by slowing the game down and running their offense. After a high-paced quarter, the Cougars took a two-point lead.
The Cougars started the second quarter on a 7-0 run, taking the momentum of the game. The Bisons looked to Alleyn to lead their comeback and he finished the first half with 10 points. After the Cougars expanded their lead to 10 the Bisons answered with a 6-0 run to keep the Mount Royal lead to single digits. Yang took charge for the Cougars in the quarter and ended the first half with a team-high 10 points. Once the first 20 minutes had expired the Cougars led 40-35.
The Bisons came out of the halftime break with a 13-0 run to take the lead and put the Cougars on their heels. The Bisons found success by increasing their defensive pressure and forcing the Cougars to turn the ball over. The Bison offense was able to work the ball inside and get to the foul-line to shoot free-throws to grow their lead. The Cougars were able to keep themselves in the game by crashing the offensive glass and coming away with extra possessions to keep the Bisons from taking a double-digit lead. The Bisons took a 54-48 lead into the final quarter of play, setting up a dramatic finish.
After Joey Nitychoruk suffered an injury that kept him on the floor while staff from both teams looked at him, the teams got back into the game looking to take the momentum to finish the game. After the injury, the Bisons went on a 6-0 run to put their lead at 11 heading into the stretch run of the game. The Cougars responded with a 12-0 run, capped by two three-pointers on back-to-back possessions and a huge Yang and-one to take the lead heading into the final minute of the game.
After a Bison basket and a Cougar made free throw the game was tied, heading into the final 24 seconds. The Bisons had the last possession of regulation where a missed three resulted in an offensive rebound but the layup rimmed-out as the buzzer sounded, sending the game to overtime tied at 67.
The Cougars were able to take the first lead of overtime after they continued to crash the offensive glass and used the extra possession to score. After a big block and layup for Hegwood, the Cougars went up four. The Bisons responded with a 4-0 run to tie the game with two minutes to go in the extra period. 6 hit a big three for the Cougars with a minute remaining. After a stop on each side, Gill came through with a three to tie the game at 74 with 15 seconds remaining. The Cougars were unable to score on their final possession and the back-and-forth battle was headed for a second overtime.
The two teams traded threes to start the second overtime, as neither team could gain an advantage. The Bisons were able to take a two-point lead into the final minute. But Gill was able to hit yet another clutch three with 13 seconds left to give the Cougars a one-point lead and putting the pressure on the Bisons to score with the shot-clock shut off. The Bisons were unable to hit their shot and the Cougars secured the rebound and the game.
Game two of the series tips-off Saturday night at 6 p.m. MDT at Kenyon Court. The game can be streamed live on www.canadawest.com.