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Tarver shines on Senior Night as Wesmen roll Bisons

Sean Tarver and the Wesmen men's team will host the Manitoba Bisons in a Canada West play-in game on Thursday. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics file)
Sean Tarver and the Wesmen men's team will host the Manitoba Bisons in a Canada West play-in game on Thursday. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics file)

DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics

It's unlikely Sean Tarver could have shone on Senior Night any more than he did Thursday. 

The fifth-year forward from Baltimore had a game-high 30 points and added 10 rebounds as the Winnipeg Wesmen men's basketball team ran away late from the Manitoba Bisons and posted a 97-75 victory at the Duckworth Centre.

Narcisse Ambanza added a career-high 15 assists to go with 12 points and five rebounds for the Wesmen, who had five players in double-digit scoring. 

The win gave the Wesmen a 2-1 lead in the 28th annual Duckworth Challenge with women's and men's volleyball at Manitoba on Friday night. A win in either match will allow the Wesmen to hold on to the Challenge trophy after winning it back in 2017-18. 

Tarver was honoured in a pre-game ceremony and showed up come game time. He recorded his 10th game this season with at least 20 points, his second with at least 30, his eighth 10-rebound game and his eighth double-double. 

Spas Nikolov hit five of his first six shots and finished with 14 points for Winnipeg, which also got 10 points from Billy Yaworsky and Don Dayrit

The Wesmen improved to 13-6, while the Bisons fell to 9-10, with the final game of the season for both teams going Saturday at the U of M. 

The Wesmen took a 48-37 lead into halftime after going the first 20 minutes without trailing and only one tie. Winnipeg led by as many as 17 in the first half — on a Tarver make that put the Wesmen up 37-20 3:59 into the second — but watched as the Bisons battled back in the third. Trailing 52-39 1:35 into the quarter, the Bisons went on a 16-4 run to cut the lead down to 56-55, the closest they'd been since a 2-2 tie 36 seconds into the game.

Winnipeg, however, responded with an immediate 11-0 run over the next 2:12 to once again restore a double-digit lead.

"We were able to get some rebounds," Wesmen head coach Mike Raimbault said. "Manitoba did a good job on the offensive glass tonight and that hurt us a bit. We were able to come up with a few rebounds and get out into transition and find the flow of the game. We made some really unselfish passes in the open court and guys were able to finish. Again, it goes back to getting stops and coming up with the ball at the end of the possession."

The Wesmen would outscore the Bisons 30-10 in the fourth quarter to win going away. 

"Obviously there's a few possessions you look at and there's things you would've liked to have gone another way," Raimbault said. "I think we've got to bring a better effort in terms of the rebounding on Saturday, and we expect (the Bisons) to play better on Saturday as well."

Keiran Zziwa led the Bisons with 18 points, while Rashawn Browne added 17 and James Wagner 17 with nine boards.