DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics
The Winnipeg Wesmen are surely hoping the next 19 games aren't as stressful as the first one.
The Wesmen men's basketball team survived a late surge from the Fraser Valley Cascades and came away with a 77-75 Canada West conference victory in the season-opener for both teams.
Winnipeg (1-0) led by eight with under two minutes to go, but needed a DJ Dixon block and to survive a Parm Bains last-second heave to come away with a win in their home-opener for the second straight season.
But the Cascades (0-1) were given one last chance. After Fraser Valley turned it over trying to head up court in transition with six seconds to play, the Wesmen turned it right with an inbound violation with 5.5 seconds to play. The Cascades got a look at a three, which was blocked out of bounds by Dixon and whistled down with 0.5 seconds remaining. Barns turnaround heave on the inbound play hit the top of the backboard and the Wesmen walked away in relief.
"I think any time that you can win you're pleased," Wesmen head coach Mike Raimbault said. "Credit to those guys (UFV): They were in a situation where they could have easily folded it up and thought about tomorrow and they continued to make plays and put us in a situation where we had to get a stop at the very end of the game."
Sukhjot Bains led the Cascades with 23 points and nine rebounds while Parm Bains added 18, as did Kenan Hadzovic.
"I thought we showed really good character out there to keep battling back," UFV head coach Adam Friesen said. "That's a heck of a team. Narcisse was just fantastic but we didn't give up and I'm proud of the guys for that.
"I think when we played with energy, more good things happened. We just had some lulls where the ball doesn't quite move as much, defensively we weren't as active on the weak side and we kinda paid the price for that."
Winnipeg led by as many as 13 in the second half.
The two teams meet again Saturday at 5 p.m.