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Wild Wesmen comeback falls short in loss to Cougars

Narcisse Ambanza drives to the hoop during the third quarter of the Winnipeg Wesmen's loss to the Regina Cougars Friday, January 25, 2019. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics)
Narcisse Ambanza drives to the hoop during the third quarter of the Winnipeg Wesmen's loss to the Regina Cougars Friday, January 25, 2019. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics)

DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics

The Winnipeg Wesmen followed their worst 10 minutes of basketball this season with some of their best and it was almost enough to erase a seemingly insurmountable deficit.

The Regina Cougars went on a mind-boggling 30-0 run to start the third quarter then withstood a furious Wesmen rally in the fourth quarter to post a 96-87 Canada West conference men's basketball victory Friday at the Duckworth Centre. 

With Winnipeg up 52-46 just minutes into the third quarter, the Cougars shifted into a zone press and made life miserable for the Wesmen, who committed 12 turnovers during a decisive run over 6:47 after halftime. Winnipeg went without a field goal from the 8:54 mark of the period and didn't make another shot until Adam Benrabah came through with a jumper to make the score 76-54 with 2:07 to play.

Winnipeg was outscored 36-9 in the third but had one last push left.

Trailing by 21 with eight minutes to go in the game, the Wesmen found a way to claw back to 90-87 down after a Narcisse Ambanza three with 51 seconds left. The Cougars, however, got an and-1 from Carter Millar on the next possession and the Wesmen rally was done.

"The first few possessions (of the third) we got it where we wanted it to go," Wesmen head coach Mike Raimbault said. "We had Narcisse in the paint, we got the ball to within a foot, we didn't convert. We got (Sean) Tarver an open jump shot that usually he's pretty consistent in hitting."

Raimbault said "panic" led to more panic on his side against the press.

And Regina head coach Steve Burrows said the Wesmen turned the tables on his team.

"Same thing happened in the fourth: You start to get a little momentum going in that direction and it kind of spins on itself, which it did there," Burrows said. "We were able to ride that out and thankfully the game ended when it did because they were doing the same thing to us in the fourth. It was some wild swings there."

Ambanza's 23 points led Winnipeg (11-6), which lost back-to-back games for the first time this season with 23 points. Joseph Medrano added 20 and Tarver had 11 with 10 rebounds.

The Cougars (13-4) won their fifth straight behind Millar's game-high 25. Myles Hamilton added 22 and Greishe Clerjuste dropped 18.

—#REPTHEW—