Connor Hood - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - The University of Alberta Golden Bears basketball team cruised past the visiting Lethbridge Pronghorns 80-59, winning Game 1 of their best of three Canada West quarter-final series, Thursday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
This was the first Canada West playoff meeting between the provincial foes since 2000, when the Golden Bears knocked off Lethbridge in Game 3 of the conference final.
Fourth-year forward Mamadou Gueye finished with a double-double, recording game-high's of 20 points and 10 boards. Geoff Pippus, Austin Waddoups and Dwan Williams also scored in the double digits, with Pippus' 14 points the next highest on the Bears.
Zac Overwater led the 'Horns with 18 points on just 4/15 shooting, but made 10 of his 13 free throws on Thursday. Elliot Sentance also had himself a strong outing in the loss, totalling 14 points, nine boards and an assist.
Despite entering Game 1 riding a three game win streak, including a series sweep last weekend and a double overtime win over Alberta in the conference finale, the Lethbridge Pronghorns came out completely flat on Thursday. The 'Horns scored just six first quarter points, shooting a paltry 2/17 in the opening quarter. The Bears took advantage of a 42% shooting quarter, thanks to six from Pippus on a pair of threes, to take a 20-6 lead.
Neither team shot well in the second frame, as the Bears allowed the visitors to get back into the game with a stronger showing in the second. Overwater scored seven of his 18 in the quarter, while Dejon Burdeaux dropped in four points, as an 8-0 Lethbridge run cut the Alberta lead to just eight at the half.
The teams exchanged runs throughout the third, with the Bears going up by as much as 14, before a pair of late rallies by Lethbridge cutting the Alberta lead back to eight entering the fourth.
However, the depth of the Bears proved to be too much for Lethbridge to overcome, as they suffered a 29-16 beating in the fourth. Gueye went off in the final quarter, scoring 10 points alone on 5/6 shooting, adding six rebounds and an assist. Waddoups, Williams and Pippus also combined for 10 of the Bears 29 points in the dominating quarter.
The Golden Bears will set their sights on a Canada West Final Four berth tomorrow night, with Game 2 set for 8:00 p.m. at Saville Community Sports Centre.