As soon as his feet hit the floor Sunday, Benny Iko knew his university basketball career was not ending this day.
The fifth-year Winnipeg Wesmen forward scored 15 points and led his team with seven boards as the Wesmen beat the Trinity Western Spartans 101-76 in the third and deciding game of their Canada West men's basketball quarter-final series at the U of W Duckworth Centre.
The Wesmen advance to the Final Four tournament on Friday and Saturday at UBC, for the first time since joining Canada West in 2000.
Iko sank three of Winnipeg's 16 three-point buckets while Winkler's Travis Krahn dropped five three-pointers. The Wesmen shot 75 per cent from the field in the first quarter for a 31-17 lead that set the tone for the game.
"I already knew coming in today (we would find a way to win). After we lost that first one (Friday) we were determined to win two straight and keep on playing," said the 6-foot-7 Iko. "We came out hot. We were all excited about the environment and what was at stake. It's huge for us to be going to the Final Four, and especially for me in my last year, to see the program elevate like this. It was just a perfect way to go out, last game here (at home).
"We're just happy to put the Wesmen name back on the map," said Krahn. "We all know we can shoot the ball and we shot with confidence today."
Five Wesmen in addition to Iko scored in double digits -- Steven Wesley with 19 points, Krahn and Jordan Clennon with 16, Andrew Cunningham with 14 and Nolan Gooding with 11. Cunningham had 13 assists.
"We got some good looks today and the guys were ready to step into it," said Wesmen head coach Mike Raimbault. "They played with confidence and we learned a lot from Friday night (86-78 loss) in terms of the mental focus that we have to be at to start the game. It's a huge honour for us to be going to the Final Four."
Leading 51-43 lead at halftime, the Wesmen went on a 18-5 run to start the third frame and opened up a 21-point lead that they held down the stretch.
It's been a huge turnaround season for the Wesmen, going from rock-bottom in the Prairie Division last season with four wins to second this season with 14 wins.
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