The University of Winnipeg College Wesmen and Red River Rebels met twice in week 17, and gave basketball fans a preview of what is likely to be the MCAC men’s conference championship matchup.
The Rebels found overtime victory in a thrilling 72-70 Thursday nighter, but the Saturday matinee was a different story as the Wesmen trounced Red River 85-64 on the back of freshman Given Isaac’s game-high 20 points.
The 6’0” guard came off the bench Saturday afternoon and lit up the scoresheet, driving the lane repeatedly and going 8/9 from the line.
“Coach talked to me and told me to have the mentality to be more of a scorer,” said the Sudanese born 18-year-old who attended high school at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate. “Usually I’m more of a penetrate and pitch type of guy, but he told me to be a scorer.”
Saturday’s convincing win proved to be a statement for the College Wesmen following their first defeat of the season Thursday night.
“We were really motivated today,” said Isaac. “That was the first loss we took this season. We got really aggravated and played as hard as we can and came out with the win. We wanted that number one spot.”
The College Wesmen will take that #1 seed into the playoffs, but it is far from a done deal. The Rebels are playoff proven with experienced coaching and a handful of veterans looking for their third-consecutive conference title.
“We won’t be confident until we are champions of the MCAC,” said Wesmen head coach Grant Richter. “We know they’re a more experienced team then us. We have a bunch of first year guys. They have some guys who’ve been around like Josh Olaes, a fifth-year guy. They’re going to be ready for us if we see them in the playoffs.”
The 2011 MCAC Final 4 Basketball Championships will be hosted by Providence College March 11 and 12 in Otterburne, MB.
By Darrin Bauming