Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Classic comeback not in Wesmen cards

Loss to Ottawa extends drought to 7 years

  • Print

If the Wesmen Classic final was to be a test, the University of Winnipeg men's hoopsters just couldn't pass, falling 81-71 to the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Monday.

That means the bragging rights will have to wait another year, at least. Although the Wesmen have won the tournament that bears their name a record 11 times in its 47-year history, they haven't won since 2006. So coming into this year's final -- after dispatching the Lakeland College Rustlers and the University of Manitoba Bisons -- the home team was hungry to show they could compete against the fearsome Gee-Gees, the second-ranked team in the nation.

'I think we gave them a little bit too much respect... It's tough to go out like that, fight so hard and come up short. You can't spot a team 23 points in the half'

-- Steven Wesley

In the end, despite a gutsy second-half comeback attempt in front of about 600 pumped-up fans at the Duckworth Centre, the Wesmen couldn't quite do it. Instead, the Winnipeg team fell behind quickly in the face of a precision Ottawa assault, trailing 47-24 by the time the first half was done.

"I think we gave them a little bit too much respect," said star Wesmen forward Steven Wesley, who finished with 23 points and was named player of the game. "If we had played the whole thing, I know we can beat these guys. It's tough to go out like that, fight so hard and come up short. You can't spot a team 23 points in the half."

Winnipeg actually outshot the Gee-Gees 39-33 in the first half, but the difference in quality showed on the scoreboard: The Gee-Gees made 51.5 per cent of their shots and seven of their 15 three-point attempts, while the Wesmen put the ball through the net on only 30.8 per cent of their throws, and missed on all seven of their shots from outside the arc.

But the Wesmen, led by 6-6 Wesley, didn't crumple after intermission. Instead, they started driving hard and making baskets, shooting 58.3 per cent in the final two quarters. By the time the third frame was done, the Wesmen had outscored Ottawa 29-17 to close the gap and make it a game; with just over seven minutes left in the fourth, they had crept up to 66-57.

Wesley and second-year guard Chris Baxter were rolling red-hot: Wesley scored 19 of his points in the second half, and Baxter scored 14 of his 16, including three baskets in the dying minutes. But that was as close as the Wesmen could get. Led by tournament MVP Johnny Berhanemeskel, who scored 22 points and snagged eight rebounds, and boosted by their eight three-pointers (the Wesmen made none), the Gee-Gees clinched their first-ever Wesmen Classic title.

"We were a little laid-back in the first half, which you can't do against a Top-2 team in the country, that's for sure," said Wesley, who was playing on a sore ankle after twisting it a few days earlier.

"It's a learning experience. We can't give anybody too much respect. We're a good team, but we just came out real late, and gave 'em too much early."

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 31, 2013 D5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Maria Aragon performs new single "Nothing but a Beat"

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose flys defensively to protect their young Wednesday near Kenaston Blvd and Waverley -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 16 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local-(Standup photo)- A wood duck swims through the water with fall refections in Kildonan Park Thursday afternoon.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

How many wins do you think the Bombers will finish with this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google