The Brandon University Bobcats believed at halftime that they had an opportunity to win their first women’s basketball game of the Canada West season Friday night.
Brandon trailed the visiting Manitoba Bisons by only six points at the break. However, in the second half, the Bisons made the Bobcats pay for their turnovers en route to a 66-35 victory at the BU gymnasium.
"We had a game plan," said Bobcats head coach Ritchie Jacobson. "We stuck to it for the most part, but you can only turn the ball over so many times and put pressure on your defence. You get a stop and turn it over. You get a stop and turn it over. You can only do that so many times. They’re going to score eventually. The turnovers did us in tonight."
The Bobcats (0-5) turned the ball over 47 times in the contest compared to the Bisons’ 21. Manitoba (2-3) used those extra possessions to its advantage, netting 38 points off turnovers, while the Bobcats only managed nine.
Jacobson felt the Bobcats’ inability to deal with the Bisons’ pressure ruined what was otherwise a solid effort by his players. He felt they played very well on defence by forcing Manitoba to the perimeter and by having everyone rally to the glass.
"We had to have five people going to the glass because that is the weakness of a zone and we played the numbers," he said. "We’ll let them beat us on the three-point line, but they were 3-of-20 in the first half. It played into our hands and we did a good job. We were right there. It’s not like they had 30 points (in the first half) because they were executing; they had 30 points because we turned the ball over so much. We had 21 turnovers at half. How many more possessions did they have than us?"
Brandon out-rebounded Manitoba 49-25, and four Bobcats — Kaela Cranston, Raisa Rybinski, Aimee Johnston and Jaynell Gillett — grabbed at least 10 boards, with Johnston leading BU in scoring with 15 points.
First-year guard Kaela Cranston credits that success to her team’s mentality.
"We’ve been working on it in practice and we’re just being aggressive," said Cranston, who finished the night with two points and 10 rebounds.
Although the Bobcats struggled with turnovers in the second half, Cranston and Jacobson are both confident the Bobcats will play a closer game tonight at 6 o’clock in their rematch at the BU gym.
"I have confidence that we can compete for 40 minutes," said Jacobson, whose team was again without fifth-year guard Jayla Bousquet (knee). "I have confidence we can put ourselves in a position against a less-experienced U of M team than we’re used to seeing to be there right down the stretch. That’s what I’m confident about."
Bisons 94 Bobcats 74
In the men’s basketball game, Donovan Gayle recorded a double-double at the BU Gym Friday night, but it wasn’t enough as Manitoba (2-3) beat Brandon 94-74.
Brandon (1-4) kept the game close through the majority of the first quarter, but gave up a 9-0 run in the final 2:24 of the first and the Bobcats never led for the rest of the game.
Ilarion Bonhomme led the Bobcats with 19 points. Gayle had 16 points and 11 rebounds while Emerick Ravier also netted 16 points.