Cougars unable to recover from Bisons' hot start

Image: Trevor Hagan, Bison Sports
Image: Trevor Hagan, Bison Sports

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. 

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. 

 The Cougars did an effective job getting inside in the final five minutes though. Guard LJ 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 sweep. 

Next up for Manitoba is a home date next weekend against UBC while Mount Royal will travel to face Trinity Western.