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WBB | Boulanger's big night pushes Wesmen past Bisons in Canada West playoffs

Wesmen players Vanessa Millions (left) and Lena Wenke celebrate a Robyn Boulanger three late in the game Friday, February 14, 2020, as the Wesmen defeated the Manitoba Bisons. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics)
Wesmen players Vanessa Millions (left) and Lena Wenke celebrate a Robyn Boulanger three late in the game Friday, February 14, 2020, as the Wesmen defeated the Manitoba Bisons. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics)

DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics

The Winnipeg Wesmen's dominance of the Manitoba Bisons continued Friday night. This time with a season on the line.

Robyn Boulanger scored 21 points and the Wesmen women's basketball team held one of the conference's top three-point teams to its worst shooting night of the season in a 69-54 Canada West playoff game at the Duckworth Centre.

The Wesmen will now move on to play the UBC Thunderbirds in a one-game quarter-final in Saskatoon on Thursday. 

The Wesmen led by as many as 10 in the second quarter, but the Bisons chipped away late holding the Wesmen to just four points in the final 5:22 of the quarter to go into halftime down 30-26.

Manitoba got it down to two immediately to start the third, but a 15-5 Winnipeg run pushed the lead back to double-digits at 45-33. 

"We knew they were going to come at us hard and they did," assistant coach Richard Gooch said. "Even down in the last two, three minutes there was no stopping because every time we play these guys it's the same thing. They're coming hard."

The Bisons, the third-best three-point shooting team in Canada West, were held to 3-for-22 from three, their worst output of the season. 

Boulanger was an efficient 9-for-14 from the field and added six assists, two steals and a block. Mikayla Funk added 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench, Anna Kernaghan chipped in 12 points and Jillian Duncan added a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

"I think that's been the strength all year," Gooch said. "Somebody always comes to the front and you never really know who that person is (going to be), but every game someone steps up and gets the job done. There were some big baskets and big rebounds down the stretch. It's a good group of kids — they work hard and play for each other."

The Wesmen held three of Manitoba's top four scorers to a combined 10-for-38 from the field and 3-for-19 from the field. Taylor Randall (4-18) had 11 points, Emma Thompson (4-14) added 10 and Lauren Bartlett (2-6) six. Addison Martin led the Bisons with 12 points. 

"It came down to a couple of plays that I knew and you could feel were momentum shifters and we just couldn't capitalize on them, whether it be a solid defensive stop on something we knew they were gonna run or hitting that big shot," Bisons coach Michele Sung said. "We had so many putbacks that were in and out."

It has been six years — almost to the day — since the Wesmen last lost to the Bisons in a conference or playoff game. The Bisons defeated the Wesmen on Feb. 13, 2014 on the last weekend of the season, and Winnipeg has won the last 14 since then. 

The game was the first playoff encounter between the two teams since Winnipeg won a best-of-three series in 2009. 

— With files from Bisons Sports

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