As the Brandon University Bobcats season started to slip away, Haashim Wallace tried to put his team on his back and chased two highlight reel plays, coming out just about empty.
The Bobcats battled the fifth-seeded University of Victoria Vikes down to the wire, but ultimately lost too many size mismatches and fell 88-80 in their Canada West men’s basketball playoff game in Victoria Friday night.
Wallace had barely missed a shot until the last few minutes, going 5-for-8 from the floor and drilled all four of his free throws for 15 points.
Down six points late, the six-foot-four forward tried to dunk on six-foot-seven Dominick Oliveri, who returned from a foot injury for the post-season. He got fouled hard and missed both free throws.
The following possession, he grabbed a rebound and had an open Jaleel Webb when BU needed a three-pointer. The import forward spun and tried another tough, contested shot, got fouled, and went 1-for-2 from the line.
At that point, it was out of reach for BU, down 85-78.
"Haashim didn’t do anything. He got fouled on it, went up and tried to finish strong. He didn’t do anything, that’s nothing to write about. He guarded their best guy the whole time, so did Jaleel (Webb)," BU coach Gil Cheung said post-game.
"That’s a team we lost to by (20-plus) both nights a couple of months ago and we came in and gave them a game."
The crazy thing is that early on, it looked like Brandon just might have been able to run away with it.
The Bobcats led as much as 35-27 in the first half as Anthony Tsegakele had 10 points and Wallace had eight, but led the Vikes creep back to tie it 43-43 at the break.
The third quarter was as tight a back-and-forth battle as any, with both teams dropping 23 points to stay deadlocked 66-66 with 10 minutes to play.
The Vikes scratched their way ahead with a few tough buckets midway through the frame to lead 78-74, but Webb nailed a key three-pointer to cut the deficit to one with just over three minutes to play.
Then the Victoria bigs took over.
Oliveri bullied his way under the hoop and finished, then 11 Hayden Lejeune did the same to push the Vikes up 83-77 with 1:29 left.
The Bobcats only managed to hit one field goal after that as a playoff run that seemed non-existent three weeks ago slipped away.
Tsegakele led the Bobcats with 17 points and eight rebounds.
"I think the guys competed. They came into one of the top 10 teams in the country and gave them a game until the last three minutes," Cheung said.
"We got in some foul trouble and couldn’t keep them of the glass. To lose the glass 50-30 and still be in it the last 90 seconds, I was really proud of the guys’ effort."
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