A 27-point performance by University of Winnipeg Wesmen mens' basketball forward Eric Zimmerman and a battle back from behind by the Wesmen to force overtime wasn't enough to lift the home side to victory Thursday as the Wesmen were defeated 93-85 by the Valley City State University Vikings in the semifinal of the 45th annual Wesmen Classic university men’s basketball tournament at the U of W Duckworth Centre.
"It certainly is disappointing not to be in the final but we’ll have to be a little faster out out of the gate tomorrow," said Zimmerman, whose Wesmen tied the game 81-81 with 23 seconds left in regulation time on a three-point bucket by Dominique Brown to force the five-minute overtime period.
"Coming back like that, we’re trying to set the tone for the second half of the season. We knew we’d dug ourselves a hole and we had to give ourselves a chance to make a run. We definitely have to do better on the boards to win games like this."
In Friday's championship final at 8 p.m., Valley City will take on the Brandon Bobcats, who beat the UBC Okanagan Heat from Kelowna 69-40 in the late semifinal. The Wesmen will play for third place at 4 p.m. against UBC Okanagan.
The final of the Salisbury House High School Boys Wesmen Classic will be played at 6 p.m. featuring the Garden City Fighting Gophers, who won the tournament last year, taking on the Kelvin Clippers.
The Manitoba Bisons earned a berth in the consolation final, which will be played today at 2 p.m. against the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves, a school that next season will join the Canada West conference and Canadian Interuniversity Sport. The Bisons defeated Keyano College of Fort McMurray, Alta. 91-79 in their consolation semifinal on Thursday.
Wesmen head coach Mike Raimbault said his team didn't execute as he expected in the overtime.
"I don't think we managed our offensive possessions with the efficiency we would have liked," Raimbault said. "Part of it is we've to to be in those situations to figure out what it takes to get it done."
The Wesmen got 17 points from each of Travis Krahn and Andrew Cunningham with Krahn hitting eight of nine free throw attempts. Zimmerman sank seven of his eight free throw attempts.
Valley City was led by guard Sekani Milligan, who scored 26 points but fouled out with 39 seconds left in regulation time. Aaron Duske put up a double-double with 11 rebounds and 17 points whil Sylvester Walker scored 19 points.
In the Brandon-Okanagan game, Brandon's Emerick Ravier was named player of the game scoring 14 points. UBC Okanagan was led by guard Yassine Ghomari with 20 points.