DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
For about 20 to 25 minutes of game action, the Winnipeg Wesmen looked like a team that hadn't played in 39 days.
The Wesmen men's basketball team shook off a gruesome start to the 2020 of its season and managed to carve out a 63-54 win over the MacEwan Griffins in a Canada West conference game Friday night at the Duckworth Centre.
The Wesmen shot 22.2 per cent from the field and trailed by as many as 11 in the first half before finally finding enough offence to complement a defence that held MacEwan to 11 points in the third quarter and nine in the fourth.
Winnipeg's shooting woes might be at least partly attributed to the long layoff between games. The Wesmen haven't played a game since Dec. 2, 2019, a product of two non-conference games having been snowed out late last month and a first-week bye to open 2020.
"Obviously, it was a weird game and there was sort of weird energy with us having the big gap between games that we had, and we expected some of that, maybe not to that extent," Wesmen head coach Mike Raimbault said. "Definitely wasn't the best half we've ever played.
"When we look at the energy we played with in the second half compared to the first half that's something we want to build off. It felt like we found the flow of the game better in the second half. We expected some rust and hopefully tomorrow we can build off the second half from tonight."
Will Sesay had a season-high 18 points, plus eight rebounds, to lead the Wesmen (5-6), who have won three straight. Don Dayrit was the only other player in double figures with 11 points.
Winnipeg grabbed a season-high 21 offensive rebounds and grabbed 10 steals, the fourth time in the past five games they've had double-digit thefts.
The Griffins (0-11) remained the only winless team in the Canada West conference and undoubtedly had reason to feel as though an opportunity to capitalize slipped away having held the lead for all but 12 minutes of the contest.
"We gave up 15 offensive rebounds in the first half and we had 12 turnovers," MacEwan head coach Mike Connolly said. "I thought if we can keep the turnovers down to eight and the offensive rebounds down to six then we're probably up a little bit better. We're not experienced enough yet when we get into close games not to throw it away. Twenty-nine turnovers just kills you, especially all these down the stretch that we had. We've just gotta keep learning, keep coming to work, just keep the grind on."
The Wesmen turned the ball over 11 times and forced the Griffins into 17 second-half turnovers.
Deonte Doslov-Doctor had 15 points to top all MacEwan scorers. Gregoire Piche-Wint had a game-high 12 rebounds.
The two teams meet again Saturday at 5 p.m. CT.