The women’s and men’s basketball teams hosted the University of Victoria Vikes this past weekend in two fast-paced series.
Jockeying for playoff positioning as the 2023-24 basketball season starts to wind down, both teams needed at least a win against Victoria going into Friday night’s match to climb in the rankings for better playoff spots.
The women’s team burst out of the gates in game one of its matchup against the Vikes, fighting its way to a 21-15 first quarter lead.
The two teams went toe-to-toe in the second quarter, each stepping up its defence, but the herd managed hold on to its six-point lead going into halftime.
In the second half of the game, the Bisons pulled away, draining 41 points and pulling off the much-needed win 76-61.
Lauren Bartlett recorded her second double-double of the season, leading the team with 17 points and 11 assists. Bartlett also led in steals with five.
In addition to Bartlett, three other Bisons had double-digit nights. Emerson Martin tied Bartlett for points with 17, Emily Johnson scored 13 and Emily Mandamin drained 11.
It was an all-around team win, with Johnson, Mar Tomas Arbos and Anna Miko recording five rebounds apiece. Miko also recorded three blocks on the night.
Saturday’s game was a much more defensive matchup, with the Vikes starting on top 13-9 after the first quarter. Pulling away in the second quarter and taking a 34-17 lead into halftime, the Vikes never let up, putting the game away in the second half and defeating the Bisons 77-42.
Johnson was the only Bison with a second double-digit night in the series, with 10 points in Saturday’s contest. Miko had nine points on the night, led in steals with four and tied with Treyah Paquette in team-high rebounds with five, while Mandamin put up eight points.
In many ways, the Bisons men’s basketball team mirrored the women’s in its series, as it also started strong out of the gate in game one on Friday.
The men put up 42 points to the Vikes 31 in the first half before a hard-fought third quarter. The herd pulled away in the third with a 69-54 lead, but Victoria stormed back in the fourth, putting up 25 points to the Bisons 14. However, the herd held on for the win, with a final score of 83-79.
Simon Hildebrandt had a career-high night in points with 41 and now holds the record for second-most points in a game in men’s program history, just two behind the 43-point record set in the 1974-75 season.
Daren Watts put up 15 points on the night, while Brandt Lenz rounded up the top three scorers with eight. Tito Obasoto led in steals with four and Hildebrandt, Wyatt Tait and Jonam Kazadi all led in rebounds with five each.
While Saturday’s game started off in favour of the Bisons — the herd taking a 15-point lead into halftime — the Vikes’ Renoldo Robinson put up 23 of his team’s 38 third-quarter points in a 46-point career night of his own. The Bisons only managed a single-digit, nine-point third and found themselves down 76-62 heading into the fourth quarter.
The herd came out stampeding in the fourth, netting 28 points and taking a narrow two-point lead in the dying seconds of the game. The Vikes countered with a dunk, tying the game at 90 and forcing overtime.
Overtime was hard-fought, with the teams trading baskets until the Bisons made a costly turnover late in the extra frame. The herd was only able to pull within three points of the Vikes with one second left on the clock, with Victoria pulling off the narrow win 103-100 in extra time.
Four Bisons had double-digit points in Saturday’s match. Watts led with 26, while Hildebrandt recorded 22, Obasoto netted 20 and Mason Kraus scored 10. Kraus also led in steals with five and Hildebrandt led in rebounds with eight.
Heading into the bye-week, women’s and men’s basketball returns Feb. 1 and 3 as the herd takes on the University of Winnipeg Wesmen in the basketball leg of the Duckworth Challenge.