Bisons basketball clashes with Spartans

Semi-successful trip out west sees men sweep Spartans and women get swept

This past weekend, the University of Manitoba basketball teams faced off against the University of Trinity Western Spartans (TWU) for a two-game series in Langley, B.C.

Women’s team

Going into its series against the Spartans, the Bisons women’s basketball team was attempting to end a six-game losing streak.

Primed and ready, the herd thundered out to a great start against the Spartans in the first game, trailing only 37-35 at halftime.

In the third quarter, however, TWU’s offence caught fire — scoring 22 points — while its defence clamped down, holding the Bisons to 16 points.

After another hot shooting quarter in the fourth, the Spartans cruised to a convincing 80-64 victory.

Bison star Lauren Bartlett was limited to eight points in game one on a woeful 1-for-13 from the field.

Nonetheless, making up for Bartlett’s lack of scoring, Autumn Agar poured in a season high 23 points.

In the second game of the weekend, the herd gave TWU everything it could handle.

The game went right down to the wire, with both teams exchanging baskets in the dying seconds.

Clinging to a narrow one-point lead with seven seconds left in the game, Agar committed a foul, sending Trinity to the line. Making both free throws, the Spartans closed the game out 66-63 after a costly turnover by Bartlett on the very next play.

Bartlett, however, played a much better second game, registering 23 points on an efficient 11-20 from the field.

Unfortunately, the women’s team’s losing streak now sits at eight games heading into the winter break.

Men’s team

Unlike the women’s team, the men’s team — recently ranked as the ninth best team in the country according to the pundits at U Sports — entered play against TWU riding a four-game winning streak.

Despite the Bisons’ favourable press, the Spartans played the Bisons extremely tough in the first game between the two schools.

Once again, Simon Hildebrandt led the charge for the herd, scoring 16 points while chipping in with nine rebounds and three steals to lead his team to a 75-70 victory.

It was not just Hildebrandt who facilitated the win. Andre Gray II was a lightning rod off the bench, too, scoring 11 points in his 10 minute total play action on the court.

The prolific scoring of the Bisons’ bench certainly seemed to turn the tide of the game, for the herd’s bench outmatched the Spartans’ by a total of 30 points to 14.

Adjusting to Hildebrandt’s dominance in the first game, TWU made a concerted effort to double — and sometimes even triple — team him in the second game, meaning his teammates needed to pick up the offensive slack.

Daren Watts, Wyatt Tait and Cieran O’Hara certainly did just that. Watts dropped 17 points, O’Hara 13 and Tait 14 — Tait recording his second double-double of the season with 11 rebounds.

Mason Kraus also orchestrated the offence well, dishing out five assists, six steals and 10 rebounds.

While Manitoba led the game by as much as 25 points, in the fourth quarter the herd let the Spartans close the gap to one point, bringing the score to 62-61.

However, the Bisons quickly got things back on track and closed the game out with some excellent defence, winning 75-63.

With the Bisons sweep of Trinity this weekend, the team’s winning streak reaches six games. The herd currently sits third overall in the CanWest standings, showing itself to be one of the most formidable teams in the conference.


After the holidays, the Bisons basketball teams will resume CanWest regular season play by hosting the University of Regina Cougars Jan. 5 and 6.