Tyler Crayston, Brandon University Athletics
BRANDON – The Bobcat men's basketball team put together an epic comeback to edge the Manitoba Bisons 101-100 in Canada West men's basketball action at the Healthy Living Centre.
BU rallied from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit to split the season opening weekend series against their longtime rivals in a Saturday night thriller.
"It is a very monumental win," said fifth-year guard Tyvon Cooper. "It just shows at times how good of a team we can be. When we are all on the same page and the effort is there, we can be one of the top teams in the conference."
The first quarter saw the teams exchange runs back and forth, before Manitoba got momentum in the second.
The Bisons built up an 11-point advantage, before the Bobcats countered with a 13-4 run to pull within two. At the break, Manitoba's lead was 47-42.
A third quarter surge of 21-6 had the U-of-M firmly in the drivers seat going into the final frame. Rashawn Browne, who finished with a near triple-double in Friday's win, caught fire from beyond the arc for Manitoba. He knocked in four threes, including a pair with time winding down.
In the fourth, Kobyn Jopp sunk an early momentum building three-pointer and the Bobcats called a timeout soon after.
Brandon continued to battle back with Troy Grant finding an offensive groove when it mattered most; he finished with a team-high 28 points.
The Bobcats' furious finish had the game going down to the wire.
Pookie Saunders was clutch, creating a turnover and scoring what proved to be the game-winning basket with under 40 seconds to go.
The Bisons could not convert at the other end and time expired on an electrifying game.
Browne finished with a game-high 32 points, while James Wagner added 20 points for Manitoba, who slipped to 1-and-1.
"They applied a lot of pressure to us and it got us out of our offence and got us scrambling," said Wagner. "We were not crisp enough with some of our passes and they built momentum off that getting easy transition layups."
Cooper collected 25 points and Saunders added 20 for the Bobcats, who evened their record to 1-and-1.
Brandon is on the road this coming weekend taking on the UBC Okanagan Heat, while Manitoba is home to the Mount Royal Cougars.
(Photo courtesy Milana Paddock)