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Wesmen hang on for critical road win

Denzel Lynch-Blair was two assists shy of a triple-double Friday night as the Wesmen beat the Regina Cougars on the road. (Kelly Morton photo)
Denzel Lynch-Blair was two assists shy of a triple-double Friday night as the Wesmen beat the Regina Cougars on the road. (Kelly Morton photo)

BY DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics

The Winnipeg Wesmen surely didn't make it easy on themselves, but they have a five-game win streak regardless.

The Wesmen men's basketball team led by as many as 23 points, but watched that lead evaporate only to recover just in time to post a 92-89 victory over the host Regina Cougars Friday night.

The Wesmen haven't lost in 2018 and have given themselves a better standing in the race for playoff spots thanks to a win streak made up of victories over each of their former Great Plains Athletic Conference foes.

Denzel Lynch-Blair was two assists short of a triple-double, scoring 13 points and adding 14 rebounds and eight assists. For the second straight game, Sean Tarver led the Wesmen in scoring, dropping 25 while adding nine rebounds. Tarver has scored at least 25 points in three of his last four games.

Narcisse Ambanza added 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and Will Sesay added 17 points and five steals, as the Wesmen starting five accounted for 80 of the team's points on the night.

Winnipeg (8-9) led 63-42 after a Billy Yaworsky layup with 5:43 to go in the third quarter. Regina, however, stormed back with a 23-2 run over the next 5:25 to tie the game at 65 with 18 seconds left in the third.

The Cougars took their first lead at 68-67 16 seconds into the fourth quarter and stretched that advantage to 74-70 a little more than two minutes later.

But a 10-1 Wesmen run gave the visitors the lead back momentarily at 80-75.

The two teams would trade the lead six times over the final three-plus minutes and the Wesmen took a 92-89 lead on a Lynch-Blair free throw with 15 seconds left.

Brayden Kuski, who led Regina with 21 points off the bench, had a look at a three-pointer with six seconds remaining that missed as the Cougars fell to 9-8.

Brandon Tull had 20 points for Regina, while Alex Igual added 16, and Shawn Lathan and Shaquille Harris 11 each.

The win, coupled with Saskatchewan's win at Brandon earlier Saturday, puts the Wesmen in a three-way tie with the Huskies and Bobcats in the 10-through-12 positions in the conference standings. The top 12 teams make the post-season.

Winnipeg will tip off again at Regina Saturday night at 8 p.m.