By Woodard, Dale on November 18, 2019.
The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns had one for the road.
Looking to salvage a split with the Manitoba Bisons, the Horns managed just that with a little extra time in an 84-79 overtime win in Canada West action Saturday night at the 1st Choice Savings Centre.
After a heart-breaking 101-99 loss Friday that left the Pronghorns frustrated, the hosts managed a 1-1 weekend as Chad Oviatt led the way with 23 points, including a clutch three in overtime to salt the win that improves the Horns to 2-4 on the season with an extended road trip next on the schedule.
“It’s nice to get a win at home,” said Oviatt, whose team rounds out the first semester in Abbotsford this weekend against the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades before heading to Vancouver Nov. 29-30 to face the UBC Thunderbirds. “We’re not going to be back for a little while. It’s nice to have some energy going away. We’re going to be away for seven weeks.”
Trailing 42-35 at the half, the Pronghorns began chipping away at the Bisons lead through the second half.
They outscored Manitoba 19-16 in the third quarter and 17-13 in the fourth quarter to knot it at 71-71 at the end of regulation.
Then with the Horns holding onto an 81-79 lead late in overtime, Oviatt delivered the dagger with a three-pointer to round out the scoring.
“I just got the ball and there were seconds counting down. I tried to go past him (James Wagner) and he cut me off. I had to take a step back and just put it up.” said Oviatt. “I think we just wanted it a lot more than we wanted it Friday night.”
“Friday was a bit frustrating with calls by the refs, but we tried to do our best. We had a decent game, but we could’ve tightened things up defensively and we did that tonight.”
Pronghorns interim head coach James McKinnon credited his team for gutting it out in another close one Saturday night.
“I think that was the thing, we battled hard the entire 45 minutes and boys just kept working,” he said. “They didn’t stop, they just kept grinding it out. Fortunately Chad hit a couple of tough shots toward the end of the game. He does that sort of stuff in practice for us, so it’s beautiful to see him do that in a game.”
Oviatt posted the double-double Saturday with 12 rebounds and shot 10-for-17 from the field.
Kyle Peterson added 15 points to go with five assists, while Colton Gibb put up 13 points and eight rebounds.
Keanu Funa scored 12 points and Brett Warren had 11.
“Chad has been playing phenomenally for us,” said McKinnon. “He’s filling a massive void in that fourth spot for us and he’s really taking that role on being that rebounder and defensive guy. The beauty of it, though, is that Kyle was able to pass him the ball and get him some easy looks on the other end. Chad is playing phenomenal, I just hope he can keep it up for the rest of the year.”
Funa had a golden opportunity to put the game away in regulation with two foul shots with two seconds left and the score tied 71-71.
He missed both chances, but contributed in overtime with a basket that put the Pronghorns up 79-74.
“He’s just one of those guys that has the next play-mentality,” said McKinnon of Funa. “You have to remember those guys are still young. So those big clutch moments hitting free throws can still be a bit mentally tough for them. But a full credit to Funa, he really battled in there guarding out Wagner on the post. He does such a good job of just being that hard-nosed, energy guy that we really need and we love having him off the bench.”
The Pronghorns will return to the 1st Choice Savings Centre in the New Year when they host the Regina Cougars Jan. 3 and 4.
“It’s good to get a win at home,” said McKinnon. “That’s the main thing before we head off. We don’t play here for another seven or eight weeks. So it’s good. Now we have two tough trips out to Fraser Valley in Abbotsford and we’re going to UBC as well. So it’s good to get that momentum hopefully the boys can push that along as we finish out the first semester.”
The Pronghorns shot 41.9 percent from the field Saturday night, 23.5 per cent from the three-point line and 64.3 per cent on free throws.
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