If the Brandon University Bobcats’ luck doesn’t change, they may want to consider moving back to their old gymnasium.
During the BU men’s basketball team’s home opener on Saturday, and first-ever Canada West game at the new Healthy Living Centre, the Bobcats were hit with one of their worst shooting spells the players and coaching staff have ever seen. The Bobcats missed open layups, breakaway layups and open jump shots, making only one of their final 16 field goal attempts in the final seven minutes and 21 seconds of their 72-60 loss to the Winnipeg Wesmen.
The defeat hit Brandon (1-5) hard as head coach Gil Cheung believes his players executed as well as they could, and they still couldn’t get the job done.
"It seems like it wasn’t our night, and you hate to say that," he said. "… Is it frustrating? Yeah. We want to have a good performance for this home crowd and it was a great crowd for our first game in here."
The Bobcats came out strong, hitting their first five shots, and held a 53-44 lead with just over a minute left in the third quarter. However, that’s when the team had its patented collapse as the Wesmen (4-2) — who were without fourth-year guard Andrew Cunningham because he was at a wedding — went on a 16-0 run during the next 2:35 to grab a 60-53 edge. Brandon replied with a few baskets before going stone cold for the rest of the game.
Jordan Reaves finished with 13 points and 21 rebounds, the most boards grabbed by any Bobcat since the school joined the Canada West conference. Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak also had a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Ilarion Bonhomme, who made the first basket in a men’s conference game at the HLC, added 12 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
As frustrated as Reaves was after the loss, he was happy with the effort the team gave on defence.
"I’m real happy about the defensive end," he said. "We’ve been practising all week about keeping our heads level and not going too high and not going too low when we go down. I’m proud of the guys for doing that. We stayed level. We might have got a little hot at times, but defence kept us in the game. It just came down to offence."
Cheung and Reaves know it won’t be easy to recover from Saturday’s loss. They also know things won’t get any easier as they are off to Kelowna on Friday to visit the UBC-Okanagan Heat (1-5) and Kamloops to play the Thompson Rivers WolfPack (2-4) on Saturday.
Cheung, however, will do his best to have the team prepared.
"Where do we go from here? I think a lot of our guys need to understand what the word discipline means and how to be a little bit better than that for 40 minutes," he said.
CAT SCRAPS: In Friday’s late men’s volleyball game at Calgary, the Bobcats topped the Mount Royal Cougars 3-1 (25-19, 17-25, 25-19, 25-22). Roy Ching led the sixth-ranked Bobcats (6-2) with 17 kills and 10 digs and was involved in five blocks. Sam Tuivai added 15 kills.