Mike Still, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG — Four different players hit double figures for the Manitoba Bisons (2-2) while seven different athletes had at least one block as the Bisons topped Mount Royal (1-3) 81-69 on Saturday night at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
Guard Rashawn Browne led the way with 17 points, two blocks, two steals, eight assists and five rebounds, while forward Malik Irwin added eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Mount Royal's leading scorer was guard Glen Yang, with a game-high 20 points.
"I thought we just competed harder," Bisons head coach Kirby Schepp said postgame. "We got after it, especially on the defensive end and usually when that happens you're going to be a little more successful."
The first period was evenly matched. Manitoba got off to an 8-2 run in the opening two minutes, with forwards James Wagner and Andre Arruda — who had 27 points overall — both hitting treys.
The Cougars bounced back however, as guard Quinn Taylor nailed a clutch three-ball and guard Glen Yang had three big rebounds and five total points as the Bisons lead was cut to 15-14 after one. There were just three combined turnovers in the back-and-forth showcase.
The second period featured a number of fast breaks, which Mount Royal was able to capitalize on yesterday. But the hosts upped their play defensively on night two, recording four blocks in the first three minutes while limiting the passing lanes.
Arruda also added five more points, and guards Kieran Zziwa and Rashawn Browne contributed three-pointers as the hosts went on a 12-0 run in the first four minutes.
The visitors were able to cut Manitoba's lead down to as little as ten though, thanks to some strong post play from Patrick Vandervelden — who had six first half points and four boards.
But the Bisons kept their composure and continued to play strong on the defensive end, limiting the Cougars to just one trey. Offensively, Browne and guard DJ Jordan Jr. got their shot going, combining for 12 second period points on a few breakout plays as the hosts led 37-24 at halftime. Eight different players also had at least two points for the hosts while Irwin registered five boards.
"That was [Malik's] best defensive game of the year," Schepp said.
"I thought he really guarded his energy level and activity level on the defensive end and was physical and into guys. That's definitely what we need from him and he knocked down a couple shots too.
Browne and Zziwa continued to pay hard on both ends to open the third period, getting a key steal and eight combined points as Manitoba opened up a lead of as much as 15.
The Cougars did an effective job getting inside in the final five minutes though. Guard John Hegwood — who was a key factor last night — was able to get to the line with his team in the bonus, and led all scorers with 14 points through three as Mount Royal entered the final ten minutes down just 56-48.
Both teams got into foul trouble early in the fourth, resulting in a number of free throws due to the bonus. Manitoba stayed active on the defensive end though and broke out to a lead of as much as 18 thanks to Browne and Zziwa. They each drew multiple charges and combined for nine final period points to help the Bisons earn a weekend split.
Next up for Manitoba is a home date next weekend against UBC while Mount Royal will travel to face Trinity Western.