A fourth-quarter rally fell short for the Winnipeg Wesmen in an 84-82 loss to the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves Friday in Prince George, B.C.
Narcisse Ambanza had a team-high 23 points and the Wesmen pulled to within one with 44 seconds left on a Billy Yaworsky three, but the Timberwolves put the game away with free throws to move to 3-0 on the season.
Jovan Leamy led four T-Wolves in double digits with a game-high 34 points with 10 rebounds.
Yaworsky finished with a season-high 19 points and five rebounds off the bench for the Wesmen (1-2), who will look to rebound in the second game of the weekend Saturday at 10 p.m. CT.
"My team was getting me the ball in good spots," Ambanza said. "The message was to keep playing hard, limit turnovers, and keep rebounding. We tried to limit their second-chance points."
It was the second straight loss by three or fewer points for the Wesmen, who lost on a buzzer-beating three-pointer last Saturday against Victoria.
"This is just Canada West," UNBC head coach Todd Jordan said. "We go on a run, they go on a run. Today, I felt like there was a point we could have put the game away and we didn't. Credit to them for coming back, but we were fortunate to get the win tonight."
UNBC defeated the Wesmen in the first round of the playoffs last season, and it's something that lingers with the players.
"They got us last year, and we want to come back and return the favour," Ambanza said. "Both teams are out there trying to play hard and win so we can get a higher seed in Canada West."