By Danielle Doiron
Winnipeg, MB – The University of Manitoba Bison women's basketball team fell just four points short of their first home win in almost two years on Friday night at Investors Group Athletic Centre. Instead, the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack took the game 78-75.
With the loss, the Bisons fall to 0-3 this season. The WolfPack (1-2) claimed their first win of the year.
"We kind of put ourselves in that situation by giving up a 15-point lead, so that didn't help," Bison head coach Michele Sung said, "but I thought our kids played hard."
The Bisons last won at home on Nov. 29, 2014, when they beat the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns 70-64. The squad opened this season on the road last weekend with a pair of double-digit losses to the University of Calgary Dinos.
Thompson Rivers guard Emma Piggin led both sides with 27 points and eight rebounds. Nicole Konieczny had 24 points and six rebounds for the home side.
Bison rookie guard Taylor Randall and Konieczny each sunk a jump shot to give the home team an early 4-0 lead, but the WolfPack fought back with two baskets of their own.
Neither side gained more than a three-point lead until the final minutes of the quarter, when Emily Vilac made a three-point jumper and Cassie Rerick added a free throw to put Thompson Rivers up 22-17. But a pair of three-pointers from Bison rookie Brittanie Parisien and third-year forward Tianna Mighty cut the WolfPack's lead to 24-23 heading to the second.
Manitoba's offense dominated the better half of the second quarter, and the Bisons – led by Konieczny, who scored six points in the first five minutes – took back the lead. From there, the Bison rookies took over. Randall, Parisien and Keziah Brothers combined for 11 points in the quarter. The Bison defence held the WolfPack to only 12 points in the second, and Manitoba closed out the half up 45-36.
The Bisons' Rebecca Potter stretched that lead to double digits with a jump shot seven seconds into the third, but the WolfPack retaliated with nine unanswered points to make it a 55-49 game. But after Konieczny made her second three-pointer of the night, Thompson Rivers held Manitoba scoreless for the rest of the quarter. The WolfPack added four baskets, and the Bisons finished the third with only a 58-57 lead.
Thompson Rivers jumped out front with six points to Manitoba's two in the first minutes of the fourth. The teams tied the game at 63, then again at 64 before the WolfPack's offence started to outpace the home side. A three-point jump shot from Manitoba's Emma Thompson brought the Bisons within one, but five points and a steal from Piggin put the visitors back out front.
The Bisons fought back but ran into trouble with fouls and gave up two more points on free throws in the game's final minutes, and the WolfPack claimed the hard-fought 78-75 win.
The two-game weekend set continues on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
MB: Nicole Konieczny (24)
TR: Emma Piggin (27)
MB: Taylor Randall (4)
TR: Leilani Carney (4), Shenise Sigsworth (4)
MB: Nicole Konieczny (6)
TR: Emma Piggin (8)