David Larkins, Wesmen Athletics
WINNIPEG - It is called The Zone. And on Friday night it existed in a nebulous air space loosely defined as "Anywhere In The Vicinity of Adam Benrabah".
The fourth-year forward had a career-high 31 points and was 7-for-7 from the three-point line as the Winnipeg Wesmen men's basketball team held on for a 100-94 victory over the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack Friday at the Duckworth Centre.
The Wesmen are off to one of the finest starts in program history and the Surrey, B.C., native gave them some much-needed pop in a game that on a couple of occasions felt on the verge of slipping away.
Winnipeg trailed by 14 in the second quarter but got back in the game in time for halftime thanks to the three-ball. Billy Yaworsky hit back-to-back triples to cut the lead to eight, Narcisse Ambanza followed with a three of his own and, a couple of possessions later, Benrabah punctuated a 16-0 run with a four-point play with 21 seconds left that momentarily gave the Wesmen a 40-39 lead.
The Wesmen trailed 42-40 at the half, but surged ahead early in the third thanks to an 8-2 run that gave them a 50-44 lead.
Winnipeg would stretch its lead to as many as nine points on a couple of occasions in the second half, the latest being an 83-74 advantage with 3:23 to go on Benrabah's seventh three of the night. The Wesmen, however, wouldn't score the rest of regulation as TRU used threes of its own to go on a 9-0 run to force overtime, the dagger being back-to-back threes from Derek Rhodes and Tyus de Vries less than 40 seconds part in the final 1:01.
In overtime, Narcisse Ambanza hit a three with 1:28 to go that levelled the Wolfpack. TRU had an inbounds play with 28 seconds to go but turned it over on an errant lob. Benrabah went on to hit three of four free throws to seal the game.
"It's tough emotionally sometimes to battle back after giving up a lead and it looked like it could have been one of those situations where you get down and you're not going to have enough gas in the tank," Wesmen head coach Mike Raimbault said. "Credit to them for having the toughness to show some resolve and battle back."
Benrabah finished 7-for-10 from the field and 10 of 13 from the free-throw line.
Ambanza finished with 22 points and seven assists as the Wesmen hit the 100-point mark for the sixth time this season. Sean Tarver had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Yaworsky was big off the bench with 16 and eight.
Rhodes had 30 to lead the Wolfpack (3-10). Michael Rouault added 17 and De Vries had 14.
"You know they're at home, they're going to make a run," TRU head coach Scott Clark said. "You know there's going to be a lot of possessions. They imposed their will at times on the game. There's obviously two different styles of basketball going on out there and when that happens it doesn't go very well for us. I just thought we lost our discipline and toughness at times."
Photo: Shanlee McLennan/Wesmen Athletics