BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Isaiah James of the Brandon University Bobcats gets hit in the face with the ball while rebounding under the UBC Thunderbirds’ basket during Saturday night’s basketball game at the BU Healthy Living Centre.
The Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team has shown that no lead is safe when playing them. Now they just need to learn how to finish.
Brandon came back from a 17-point deficit against the visiting eighth-ranked UBC Thunderbirds Saturday night to tie the game.
However, Kenonte Ramsey got stuffed on a last-second drive and Emerick Ravier couldn’t sink his buzzer-beating three as the Bobcats dropped to 0-2 with a 76-74 loss.
Missing what would have been the game-winning shot crushed Ravier, a fifth-year guard, as he stood in the doorway to BU’s Healthy Living Centre until Bobcats head coach Gil Cheung called him back to the team. After a few minutes, Ravier tried to stop replaying the game’s final play in his head and focus on his squad’s comeback bid.
"We have great chemistry and we’re about to do great things, but it’s like coach always says, it’s a 40-minute game," said Ravier, who led the Bobcats with 19 points. "We can’t allow ourselves to put us in that position. It’s great that we have the fighting-back mentality, but we want to be the bullies. We want to be the ones to push from the start and have teams come back around us."
The Bobcats faced a massive size disadvantage against UBC (1-1). While some of Brandon’s guards, like starting point guard Mikee Dosado and Ilarion Bonhomme, are under six feet tall, UBC’s back court featured a trio of 6-foot-5 players.
Brandon struggled with the size disadvantage for most of the game, especially on the glass, until Cheung got his team to play an aggressive pressure and trap defence that resulted in five fourth-quarter turnovers and got Brandon back into the game.
Cheung knows his team will face a size disadvantage for the next two weeks as well when Brandon visits the seventh-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies before hosting the second-ranked Alberta Golden Bears, and he knows a similar strategy will be needed.
"I think you’ll see what we tried to do here a little bit is if you try to bully us and big body us in the post, we have to make it a bit of a track meet and come out and trap and make it more of a fast-paced game," Cheung said. "I thought we did a good job of that, but we were outshot at the foul line 23 to seven. When a team gets 16 more free throw attempts than you, I just felt we couldn’t get any type of flow going."
Jordan Reaves finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Brandon, with Ramsay adding 16 points and Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak posting 14. Jordan Jensen-Whyte led UBC, which dressed only eight players, with 18 points.
The Bobcats know that to be a good team they have to find a way to pull off close games —they lost five by seven or fewer points last year — and although they couldn’t walk away with a win on Saturday, the team feels its very close to getting over that hump.
"I hate to sound like a cliché with ‘we’re close, we’re close, we’re close,’" Cheung said. "It’s like the Tiger Woods golf game all the time, but we are pretty close. I’m proud of their effort and I know we’re going to get there. I’m positive we’re going to get there."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 4, 2013