Losing their grip

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The Cougars men’s basketball team desperately holds onto playoff hopes

Autumn McDowell
Sports Editor

The University of Regina men’s basketball team has a 17-year playoff streak to uphold, but the streak may not make it to 18.

The Cougars are in trouble for the first time in a long time. Currently, they sit last in the prairie portion of the conference with a 3-10 record. The top four Prairie teams qualify for the playoffs, and Regina is in eighth.

“As everyone knows, we are in tough right now,” said Darcy McKeown, assistant coach of the men’s basketball team. “We have Winnipeg coming up [this] weekend; we have to get two wins, we have to get both of those games. Alberta after that is going to be a tough stretch and we are hoping that we can potentially split with Lethbridge.

“Really, our goals are, overstating the obvious, to play as well as we can and we are still reaching for that last playoff spot; hopefully we can get it. Even just get some momentum going into the end of the year. [This] week’s games against Winnipeg are crucial.”

The Cougars took to the court last weekend against two powerhouse teams from Canada West: the Fraser Valley Cascades (8-5) and the Trinity Western Spartans (7-6).

The first home series of 2012 did not go exactly how the team had hoped, as the BC teams proved to be too much for the Cougars to handle.

The Cougars became the victim of two back-to-back losses, devastating news for a team fighting for a playoff spot.

In his first game as a Cougar on Jan. 20 Vule Grujic put up 16 points, but his effort would not be enough to tackle a double-digit deficit the Cougars found themselves in early in the second quarter. Fraser Valley went on to hand the Cougars their ninth loss of the season, 86-73.

Unfortunately for the home team, Night 2 was more of the same. Although the Cougars were able to trade leads with Trinity Western for the better part of the first half, a third-quarter flurry by the Spartans left the Cougars trailing by as many as 33, a hole that was simply too big to climb out of. Trinity Western handed Regina its fourth-straight loss, 104-68.

Although the teams the Cougars faced over the weekend were high caliber, that doesn’t make the losses sit any easier.

“This weekend … we had two tough games,” said McKeown.

“Fraser Valley is ranked tenth in the country. I think once again the guys showed that, over some stretches, they can play with them. We had some tough matchups and that made it difficult.

“Even [against Trinity Western] we couldn’t get it done defensively. Part of that was physical. [Trinity Western] is such a physical team so it was hard to stop them at times. We also had stretches where we just lapsed offensively and couldn’t get things done – it was tough.”

Even though the weekend may not have gone according to plan for the Cougars, who are now dead last in the prairies and currently out of the playoffs, there is still time for them to turn their season around.

The Winnipeg Wesmen (4-10) are to go toe-to-toe with the Cougars this Friday and Saturday. Game time is 8 p.m. each day.

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