The Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team went from a team battling for a playoff spot to spoilers on the weekend, but it’s a role they’re comfortable with.
The Bobcats (4-12) were officially eliminated from the Canada West playoff race with their loss to the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies (11-5) on Friday. However, they bounced back in their new role as spoilers Saturday night at the Healthy Living Centre by beating the Huskies, who are the 10th-ranked team in the country, 73-69.
With the win, Brandon made a point that just because it’s playing for pride now, it won’t roll over in its final six games.
"Ain’t nothing wrong with playing for pride," said Bobcats guard Ilarion Bonhomme, who finished with 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds. "We’re going to try to get every one we can and mess up some people’s records."
Kenonte Ramsey had a 21-point night for Brandon and Michael (Reggie) Smith added 14. Matthew Forbes led Saskatchewan with 21 points.
The Huskies, who played without Canada West’s leading scorer Stephon Lamar (hamstring), were the Bobcats’ first victims in their new role.
The Bobcats came into the season with high hopes, but struggled out of the gate. Injuries were a big part of the problem as Emerick Ravier, who was expected to be the team’s leading scorer, will miss the entire season while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.
Isaiah James has played limited minutes with an ankle injury.
Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak, who leads Brandon in points and rebounds this season, suffered a season-ending injury a week ago in B.C.
However, BU head coach Gil Cheung refused to blame his team’s struggles on missing three key players.
"We didn’t execute and had lulls down the stretch and periods where we couldn’t score," Cheung said.
"Our biggest issue was we couldn’t score. Those are the games that cost us. But it’s a process. We have a second-year point guard. Our leading scorer is a second-year kid and we all know in this conference that fourth- and fifth-year kids win you more games. These kids have been through battles, so hopefully they learn from their experiences."
While the Bobcats are building toward next season, Saturday’s victory may have made them a more dangerous team as they prepare to visit the Lethbridge Pronghorns this weekend.
"It definitely gives us a lot of confidence," Bonhomme said. "We can play with anybody. We showed with UBC. It doesn’t matter what other teams do, it’s on us. We’re confident."