Cougars come up just short in back and forth battle

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

Mike Still, Bison Sports 

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Bisons battled back from being down as much as ten at halftime, outscoring and outlasting Mount Royal 73-69 on Saturday night at Investors Group Athletic Centre. 

Guard Taylor Randall was huge in the win, with 15 second half points and 19 overall. Mount Royal's leading scorer was guard Madison Hooper with 19 points as well. 

Randall noted that staying mentally strong was critical in Manitoba's comeback. 

 The opening five minutes of the first quarter were tightly contested, with the score just 6-5 for Manitoba. Both sides had some open looks but couldn't get their shots to fall. 

Manitoba went on a 12-5 run to close the quarter however, with forward Addison Martin playing a big role on both ends of the floor. She had four rebounds and five points and was able to get to the line with her team in the bonus in the dying minutes. 

The Cougars went on a 9-1 run in the first minute-and-a-half of the second quarter and outscored the Bisons 15-5 overall. The story was field goal percentage, as the visitors shot 33 percent, while Manitoba was just 1-for-20. 

Mount Royal also did a good job with their front court play, creating a significant amount of traffic and forcing the hosts to shoot outside-in, where they were 0-for-9 from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes and trailed 33-23 after two. 

Australia native Hooper was effective from both inside and outside for the Cougars, scoring a game-leading 12 points at the half, six of which came from the perimeter. Manitoba's leading scorer was guard Nicole Konieczny, with nine points. 

Manitoba brought the game back to within four in the opening four minutes of the third quarter, as Konieczny and  Randall both got the three-ball working. But Marlatt and guard Marnie Garner returned the momentum back to their side with nine combined points and a few big rebounds, as the visitors re-upped their lead to as much as nine with three minutes to go. 

Some well-balanced scoring brought the Bisons to within one to open the fourth quarter though, as forward Claire Harvey imposed her will inside the paint, scoring seven points in the quarter overall. 

The final ten minutes were a flurry of excitement. Manitoba opened up a lead of as many as ten, thanks to points from Randal. The Cougars battled back though, bringing the score to 72-69 in the final 30 seconds, as Marlatt and fellow post Sydney Tabin were able to get to the line and also brought in some key boards. 

Manitoba was able to close out the contest however, as Randall registered a big steal with possession in Mount Royal's hands, and the Bisons closed the game out at the line, winning by four. Guard Booke evasion played some huge minutes in the fourth to help secure the win, scoring five points in the contest as well as recording three key steals.

With the win, Manitoba advanced to 4-0, while Mount Royal fell to 0-4. The Cougars will head on the road to take on Trinity Western next weekend, while Manitoba heads to UBC.