DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
The Winnipeg Wesmen bolted out of the gates and never looked back in dominating their crosstown rivals Thursday night.
The Wesmen led by as many as 15 in the first quarter, holding the Bisons to nine points in the first 7:55 of the game, and after Hezekiah's three with 1:19 to go in the first never saw their lead dwindle to less than 11 points the rest of the way.
"One of our goals is to run and transition, and I think the kids did a great job getting rebounds and steals and just taking off," Wesmen head coach Tanya McKay said. "I think it changed the pace of the game quickly and we were fortunate that we hit some shots. The only thing that hurt us was them going to the foul line a lot."
The Wesmen entered the home-and-home series with a Magic Number of 2 to qualify for the post-season. By the time they tip for Saturday's rematch at the U of M, the Wesmen will know surely what they have to do — if anything — to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth time in the past five years. The MacEwan Griffins, who entered the weekend with an identical record to Winnipeg, now sit two points back of the Wesmen and will need to win two games at Victoria to even hope to upstage them.
The win gave the Wesmen their first victory in the five-part Duckworth Challenge that includes volleyball and women's soccer. It was also the final home game for fifth-year senior Paige Hastings Van, who was honoured in a pre-game ceremony.
"We always talk about playing in the now, one possession at a time," McKay said. "We're playing for something. We're playing for a playoff position, we're playing for Paige, we wanted it to be a great game for her. It was a great crowd. It was awesome."
Taylor Randall and Deidra Bartlett had eight points apiece to lead the Bisons (8-11), who are in danger of falling one more spot in the standings with a loss on Saturday. The Wesmen (7-12) sit two points back and would be ahead of the Bisons on a tiebreaker should the win the next meeting.
Claire Harvey was named the Bisons player of the game after grabbing a team-high 14 rebounds. Hezekiah was named the Wesmen player of the game.
The Wesmen forced the Bisons into 27.3 per cent shooting for the game and 6-for-24 from three. The Bisons also shot 54.5 per cent from the free throw line.
Winnipeg shot 40.5 per cent from the field, 5 of 14 from three and 10-for-14 from the line.