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Five-win January puts Wesmen in playoff hunt

Sean Tarver had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in Saturday's loss at Regina. (Kelly Morton photo)
Sean Tarver had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in Saturday's loss at Regina. (Kelly Morton photo)

BY DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics

The Winnipeg Wesmen finished the month of January with five wins in six games and will have a chance to secure a playoff spot on home floor next weekend.

Sean Tarver scored 23 points and added a career-high 15 rebounds as the Wesmen fell short of sweeping a weekend series in Regina Saturday, dropping an 80-78 decision to the host Cougars.

The loss snapped a five-game win streak for the Wesmen, who put themselves back in the post-season discussion with a near-perfect January.

Tarver scored 19 of his game-high total after halftime, when the Wesmen made a third-quarter surge after trailing 38-31 after two quarters. Tarver has scored at least 20 points in four of his last five games. 

Regina upped its lead to 10 in the third, but a 10-3 Winnipeg run to close the quarter brought the Wesmen to 61-60 down heading into the final frame.

A Denzel Lynch-Blair layup with 48 seconds left cut Regina's lead to 79-78 and Winnipeg got a defensive stop on the next possession.

The Wesmen, however, missed two looks at the go-ahead basket in the final seconds and Regina was able to escape with a win to move its record to 10-8 on the season.

Winnipeg, meanwhile, fell to 8-10 heading into the final weekend of the season, a pair of games against 2-15 UBC-Okanagan Friday and Saturday at Duckworth Centre.

Brandon Tull led five Cougars scorers in double figures with 20 points. Brian Ofori added 15, Shawn Lathan had 14, and Alex Igual and Shaquille Harris, off the bench, chipped in 10 apiece.

The Wesmen are currently tied with Brandon for the final two playoff spots, with 7-10 Mount Royal looming on the outside.

Canada West ranks the top 12 teams based on RPI to determine playoff standing. The Wesmen currently hold a .5073 RPI, lower than that of Brandon, but above that of three other teams currently ahead of them in the standings.

With two wins on the weekend, the Wesmen would secure their sixth straight season of at least a .500 record.