Tyler Crayston, Bobcat Athlete Services and Events
BRANDON, MB – The Brandon University men's basketball team and the visiting Thompson Rivers WolfPack are going the distance in their Canada West first round playoff series.
Thompson Rivers had five players reach double digits as they downed the Bobcats 96-64 on Saturday night to even the best-of-three series at one game apiece.
"There is nothing that we can do about it, but we have to learn from it," said BU coach Gil Cheung. "You are not going to walkover teams in the playoffs. They played with urgency and we did not respond, which I was disappointed in. Our job is to take care of home court on Sunday."
Derek Rhodes recorded a game-high 21 points, while Volodymyr Iegorov added a double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds for TRU. Rounding out the WolfPack's balanced offence was Joe Davis, who delivered 14 points, and Luke Morris scored 13 points.
Brandon's top scorer was Earl Thompson Jr. with 13 points, while Pookie Saunders was next with 10 points for BU.
In the opening quarter, the Bobcats struck quickly with a 7-0 run, but the WolfPack played well under pressure with their season on the line. Later, Thompson Rivers turned an 11-4 deficit into a 16-11 advantage thanks to a 12-0 run. At the end of the first, BU trailed 18-14.
Bobcats' rookie Kobyn Jopp started to get the ball rolling in the second quarter as he scored three straight baskets to trim BU's deficit to 28-24.
The WolfPack led 33-27 with 3:45 to play and proceeded to go on an 11-5 run to close out the second and go into halftime up 43-32.
In the third, Thompson Rivers was lights out from beyond the arc to begin the quarter as they hit their first four three-pointers to pull ahead 59-39. The WolfPack piled on more offence with an 8-0 run and led 75-51 after three quarters.
The playoff combatants traded baskets in the fourth as the two sides started to turn their attention to a winner take all showdown.
The third and deciding game between the Bobcats and WolfPack is set for a 7 p.m. (CST) start on Sunday. The Calgary Dinos await the winner in the conference quarter-finals.
(Photo courtesy Milana Paddock, BU Athletics)