Lucas Meyer, Dinos Communications Assistant
CALGARY - The Manitoba Bisons got some revenge on opening night at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium, with an 85-81 road victory over the reigning champion University of Calgary Dinos.
In a rematch of last year's Canada West semi-final which the Dinos won 100-74, the Bisons hit 10 three-point shots and caused key turnovers for the four-point win.
"It meant a lot to win in this gym tonight," fifth-year guard A.J. Basi said. "We can't get too high, we can't get too low. But last year and the year before our season ended in this gym and we keep that fresh in our minds."
Basi and fellow captain Justus Alleyn led the way offensively with 21 and 24 points each respectively.
Calgary took the first lead of the game 2-0 with a jumper from last year's MVP Thomas Cooper, but they wouldn't lead for the rest of the game. Manitoba led 19-16 after the first quarter, but made it a 10-point game at halftime 42-32 thanks to 5-11 shooting from downtown in the first half, while holding Calgary to just 1-7 from three-point range. The Bisons controlled the third quarter, but Calgary scored the frame's last six points and trailed just 61-55 going into the third with some momentum. But Manitoba responded with a major run of their own.
The visiting team opened up the fourth with a 10-0 run, capped with back-to-back threes from Basi to make it 71-55, with the team erupting in celebration and forcing the Dinos to take a timeout.
Calgary wouldn't go away, sparked by recruit Mambi Diawara who seemed to be everywhere on both ends of the floor.
First it was a three at the six-minute mark, followed by a steal which led to two David Kapinga free throws. At 77-69, he would get another steal and eight seconds later, his layup made it just a six-point game with 4:12 left on the clock. The Bisons would have to win the game at the line, taking 20 free throws in the quarter, but the 12 they hit always kept the Dinos at bay. A Kapinga layup with 47 seconds left made it just 81-77, but on their next offensive possession, Lars Schlueter would miss a three which led to two more Manitoba free throws and the Bisons went on to win.
"We knew at halftime that no matter how much we were up, they were going to make a fun," Basi said. "We just tried to stick with it, we got sloppy, but we were happy to pull off the win."
Basi finished with 21 points on 7-11 shooting including six threes, while Alleyn had 25 points and five rebounds. The Bisons finished 10-19 from three-point territory, while Calgary ended 7-22.
Cooper had game-high 39 points, while Schlueter had 12 and Kapinga also finished double-figures with 10.
Diawara ended with seven points, five rebounds and four steals.
"It's a step in the right direction of where we want to go," Basi said.
Game 2 goes Saturday night at 7 p.m.