DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
In five years with the Winnipeg Wesmen, Lena Wenke hasn't lost to the Manitoba Bisons. She wasn't about to let it happen Saturday.
Wenke scored a team-high 24 points — two off her career-high — and the Wesmen women's basketball team rallied from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat the Bisons 90-83 in a Canada West conference game at the Duckworth Centre.
The Wesmen (4-4) ran their winning streak against the Bisons to 13 straight dating back to February 2014. The Wesmen have won 19 of the last 20 match-ups with their crosstown rivals.
All of that, of course, pre-dates Wenke, who arrived from Goettingen, Germany in 2015 and immediately became a full-time starter and has never experienced a loss to Manitoba in her five years at UWinnipeg.
But Saturday they needed to summon something special to keep the streak alive.
An Emma Thompson lay-up with 7:21 remaining gave the Bisons their largest lead of the game at 77-65. While the Wesmen were able to chip away at that deficit, they still trailed by seven after a Taylor Randall three upped the Bisons lead to 80-73 with 4:22 to go.
The Bisons wouldn't hit another field goal the rest of the day.
Immediately Winnipeg went on an 11-1 run that included a Wenke three with 2:30 to go that snapped an 81-all tie.
"I'm not going to talk about her five years and our record against Manitoba but Lena was absolutely 110 per cent making sure that her team was on her back and we were going to do whatever it took to win that game," Wesmen head coach Tanya McKay said. "You've got a young team on the floor around a fifth-year and you're hoping they (realize) ... 'Let's turn this ship around.' So we did a couple things to turn the ship around and we just stayed on path."
Wenke, who was 7-for-12 from the field, added a career-high six steals and six rebounds. The Wesmen also got 19 points from freshman Anna Kernaghan, who chipped in five rebounds and four assists. Robyn Boulanger scored 15 points, Jessica Dyck 11 and Deb Nkiasi 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals off the bench.
Manitoba (2-4) was led by Randall's 28 points. She also had six rebounds, five assists and five steals. Emma Thompson added 16 points and six assists, Addison Martin grabbed a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Lauren Bartlett scored 12 points off the bench.
In the end, the Bisons were left trying to figure out how a double-digit lead and near-certain victory slipped away.
"I think just not playing into emotional situations where there's things out of our control. A bad call, we can't let that get in our head," Bisons head coach Michele Hynes said. "I think it's more that than close-game situations because they do it every day in practice.
"We talked about adjustments from Thursday was making sure we got more team assists and I thought we did a great job moving the ball to get that."