Wesmen women split with fourth-ranked Cougars, men fall to 2-14

U of W basketball teams compete with long-time Regina rivals

Wesmen forward Kelvin Smith (#12) battles a Regina Cougar player for a shot at the basket during the U of W’s home stand. Dylan Hewlett

On Friday, Jan. 21, the University of Winnipeg Wesmen basketball teams hosted long time rivals, the Regina Cougars with home court advantage. 

In the women’s game, it was an offensive struggle for both teams. In the first half, the Wesmen shot only 19 per cent from the field.

Luckily for U of W, the Cougars were also struggling, which kept Winnipeg in the game. At the half, the score was 22-18 for Regina.

The second half began with six unanswered points from the Cougars, who extended their lead to 28-18. 

Throughout the third the Wesmen battled back, but at the end of the third quarter they were down 40-35.

The Wesmen closed the gap to 47-46 in the final two minutes, but Cougar veterans Gabrielle Gheysen and Lindsay Ledingham each hit a shot to close out the game and saw the Cougars win 54-49.

At 8 p.m. the men’s game tipped off in the Duckworth Centre. The Wesmen came out cold in the first half, and by halftime were down 45-22. 

However, it was a different story in the second half. The Wesmen came out strong and fearless with a huge run in the third quarter, cutting the Cougars lead to 60-50.

When Joanna opened over time with a bank three, it almost looked like her night. But our kids held it together and we found a way to win.

Tanya McKay, head coach, Wesmen women’s basketball

In the fourth, the Cougars desperately tried to hold on to their lead. Winnipeg’s Kelvin Smith and Lyden Drayton-Barrow each hit for three early in the last quarter, and Regina’s lead was closed to 72-70. 

The Wesmen stayed with it, but were unable to take the lead in the final five minutes. After an exciting second half, the Wesmen lost 83-80.

On Saturday night, the women’s game was a typical Cougars-Wesmen battle. Wesmen had the lead for most of the game, and it looked like they were going to take the win with only seconds left on the clock.

As the final buzzer rang, Regina guard Joanna Zalesiak threw up a shot from half court.  It dropped, and the game was sent into overtime.

“We were shocked she hit that three on the buzzer,” said Wesmen women’s head coach Tanya McKay. 

Overtime began and Zalesiak hit another three, to put the Cougars up 62-59. 

“When Joanna opened over time with a bank three, it almost looked like her night.” McKay said. “But our kids held it together and we found a way to win.”

Zalesiak fouled out mid-way through overtime, and the Wesmen went on to defeat the Cougars 65-63.

In the men’s game, the Wesmen were missing two starting guards, Nick Lother and Nolin Gooding. Lother was banned from the Duckworth Center on Saturday night for having too many technical fouls this season and Gooding is out for the season with a torn ACL.

The Wesmen were up 49-38 at the half, but lost momentum early in the third quarter. They lost 90-75. 

The Wesmen are keeping games close with strong teams in the league and are continuing to improve.

Winnipeg point guard Kenny Perry, who recently returned from his own injury, is looking at the positives from the weekend. 

“Our team is playing well as a team at this point,” Perry said. “As we enter the last eight games of the season we want to make a run to hopefully gain a play-off spot.”

Published in Volume 65, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 27, 2011)

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