Tyler Crayston, Bobcat Athlete Services and Events
BRANDON, MB – The Brandon University men's basketball team had a memorable performance to match the moment on Friday night as the Bobcats successfully made their playoff return for the first time in eight years.
Powered by Tyvon Cooper's 30-point performance, the Bobcats hit the century mark by taking out the Thompson Rivers WolfPack 101-95 in the opening game of their best-of-three Canada West first round series. It marked the first time since February 3, 2008 that BU cracked 100 points in a playoff game.
"We responded," said Cooper. "They made their runs, but we made our runs. Every time they hit, we hit. We played resilient basketball to start this series. We fought hard and protected our home court."
Balanced scoring had been Brandon's bread and butter during the regular season and that carried over into the start of the post-season. Cooper and the rest of the BU starting lineup all reached double figures in the victory.
Earl Thompson Jr. poured in 20 points, Pookie Saunders scored 14, Chris Stanhope had 10 and John Paul completed a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The top scorer for Thompson Rivers was Volodymyr Iegorov with 29 points, while Joe Davis delivered 24 points in a losing cause for the WolfPack.
Paul had an early slam-dunk that got the fans at the Healthy Living Centre into the post-season spirit. The Bobcats led 29-23 after a high-scoring first-quarter where BU shot 63.2 percent.
In the second quarter, the Bobcats strung together an 8-0 run courtesy of back-to-back three-pointers by Cooper to pad their lead to 12. The WolfPack cut that deficit in half, 39-33, with 4:20 remaining. At the break, Brandon's advantage was 48-40.
After halftime, Brandon added to their highlight reel with Stanhope slamming it home off a turnover by Thompson Rivers to lead 56-45. The Bobcats continued to gain momentum with back-to-back triples that put them out in front 62-48. The WolfPack weathered the offensive outburst by BU and closed the third quarter with an 18-6 run to trail 73-70.
In the fourth, the Bobcats started strong with a 12-5 run to re-establish their 10-point cushion en route to opening the series with a solid home court win.
Brandon will look to sweep the WolfPack on Saturday at 7 p.m. (CST) at the Healthy Living Centre. If it goes the distance, a third and deciding game would be played Sunday at 7 p.m. (CST) at the HLC. The series winner will advance to play the Calgary Dinos in the quarter-finals.
(Photo courtesy Milana Paddock, BU Athletics)