David Larkins, Wesmen Athletics
WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Wesmen picked the wrong time to go cold.
The Wesmen scored just six points in the fourth quarter and watched the UNBC Timberwolves close on a 13-4 run to come from behind and pick up a 71-68 win in a Canada West play-in game Thursday night at Duckworth Centre. UNBC's win marked the program's first-ever Canada West playoff victory.
Winnipeg went the final 5:27 of the game without scoring a point.
The Wesmen used a 9-0 run of their own to take a 62-58 lead into the fourth quarter but went cold from there, giving UNBC multiple opportunities to pull away, with the T-Wolves leaving just enough of a door open to keep the Wesmen in the game. Jovon Leamy missed the front half of a pair of free throws with six seconds left, giving the Wesmen a bit of life. But a Sean Tarver three at the buzzer banked off the backboard and the Wesmen season was over.
Winnipeg won seven of its last eight down the stretch to make a run into the playoffs after being all but forgotten from a 3-9 first semester.
Narcisse Ambanza led five Wesmen players in double figures with 15 points and added six assists. Billy Yaworsky was one of two U of W players with double-doubles, notching 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Sean Tarver had 12 and 13, his third double-double of the past four games.
DJ Dixon came off the bench to add 11 points and Will Sesay chipped in 10 with five boards.
As he has done virtually all year, Jovon Leamy led the Timberwolves off the bench with 18 points. Volodymyr Pluzhnikov had 17. Vaggelis Loukas added 10 rebounds to go with eight points.
Against a team that has struggled to defend the three, the Wesmen simply couldn't make any, going 3-for-20 against the 17th-ranked perimeter defence in the Canada West.
The Wesmen played without reserve forward Nate Johnson, a fifth-year Toronto native who injured his ankle in practice and was pronounced out for the season.
Fresh off their first Canada West playoff win, the Timberwolves continue their playoff journey next week when they'll travel to take on the No. 1 seed Alberta Golden Bears in the conference best-of-three quarter-finals. The series runs Friday through Sunday at the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton.