With an automatic bid to the U-Sports Nationals and a trip to the Canada West conference
(CanWest) championship game on the line this past Saturday, Feb. 25, the University of
Manitoba men’s basketball team faced off against the University of Winnipeg Wesmen (U of W)
in a clash of fierce conference rivals.
Manitoba took down the University of Calgary Dinos 75-72 in its quarterfinal game on Feb. 18,
while the Wesmen thwarted fellow Manitoban neighbour University of Brandon Bobcats 87-84.
Before the semifinal game, the tension and sheer excitement it caused was palpable. Investors
Group Athletic Centre (IGAC) was sold out and raucous. Bison and Wesmen supporters were
both extremely vocal throughout the game. One could hear the din from the parking lot, and the
noise would factor in significantly as the game progressed.
The Wesmen outplayed the Bisons in the first quarter, however, the herd thundered back to
control play in the second.
When the half-time buzzer sounded, both teams went to their locker rooms with 39 points
Unfortunately, a blown call influenced the outcome of the game. Early in the fourth quarter,
Wesmen Alberto Gordo sunk a layup to give the U of W its 61st point of the evening. However,
it shouldn’t have counted. The noise in IGAC was so deafening that the referees claimed they
didn’t hear the shot clock buzzer go off, indicating the Wesmen had exceeded the allotted time
to get a shot off.
The blunder went unremedied and the basket stood – much to the chagrin of the loyal IGAC
faithful and head coach Kirby Schepp, who clapped his hands together in vexation following the
Ultimately, however, there was still a lot of basketball to be played.
Despite trailing by as much as six with eight minutes left in the contest, the Bisons clawed their
way back into the game, taking the lead 65-63 on an Isaac Miller-Jose layup with five and a half
The Wesmen roared back, however, when the aforementioned Gordo nailed a near half-court
desperation three as the shot clock was expiring, giving the U of W a 72-66 lead.
Again, Manitoba managed to close the gap, bringing the score to 72-70. The Bisons then fouled
a Wesmen player so as to get the ball back. Donald Stewart made one of two free throws,
meaning the Bisons could still tie the game.
With just five seconds remaining, the Bisons had the ball. Coach Schepp drew up a play for
Elijah Lostracco, who got a good look at a triple, which would have tied the game. He missed it
As a result, the Wesmen stunned the Bisons 73-70, advancing to the CanWest championship
game against the University of Victoria Vikes.
Ultimately, missed three pointers did the Bisons in, as they went a dismal 2-28 on the evening.
Yet, the U of M may still make the U-Sports National championships. However, their future isn’t
in their own hands, as they’ll need to be selected for an “at-large” bid.
Now, only time will tell if the herd’s remarkable season will continue.