Cassie Cooke drives for two of her 34 points Friday. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
One week after being somewhat contained, Cassie Cooke found her game again.
The third-year shooting guard took control of Friday’s Canada West women’s basketball game at the Healthy Living Centre as the Brandon University Bobcats picked up a 61-47 win over the University of Manitoba Bisons. The 5-foot-8 Maryland native finished the contest with a game-high 34 points, eight assists and four steals as the Bobcats improved to 4-9 on the season.
"I feel like my focus was to play a lot more defence and box out a little bit more," she said. "Last weekend I would say I focused a little too much on that instead of getting to the basket and really playing my own game."
Cooke got her focus right in time to help the Bobcats win their second straight home game and she was supported by a solid team effort.
Brandon came out with a new look on offence with a series of running handoffs at the top of the key before working the ball into the post. While the play worked well, the finish was missing at times, which led to Cooke taking over the game by hitting four three-pointers in the first half. Working the ball down low and Cooke’s success from downtown worked to her advantage in the second half. Lanes started to open up for her and she made easy layups and found open players to help the Bobcats outscore the Bisons 25-8 in the final quarter to put it out of reach.
Although Cooke finished with just under half of Brandon’s points, she felt this was one of the best team efforts the Bobcats have had this season.
"I think our posts played a large part in this one more than any other game," she said. "They did a great job. We’ve been working really hard in practice to get them involved and not have it so much of a three-point shooting team and have them get fouled and that’s exactly what our posts did for us … First semester I don’t think we really mastered playing with each other, but the second semester I think we’re definitely focusing in practice as playing as a team and not so much relying on one or two people to score."
Hamiota native Keegan Robinson finished the game with eight points, three rebounds and two steals for the Bobcats, who found themselves tied 45-45 with the Bisons with 9:45 left in the fourth quarter. Kaela Cranston also had eight points. Allison Balasko paced the Bisons (3-10) with 16 points.
With the win, the Bobcats matched their highest single-season win total since joining Canada West in 1999-2000. The team, however, won’t bask in that glory for long.
"It’s great, but we’ve got to get more. Plain and simple, we’ve got to get more (wins)," BU head coach Novell Thomas said.
Brandon and Manitoba are right back at it today at the HLC. The game tips off at 5 o’clock.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 18, 2014