Paul Cartledge, Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON – Coming into the season as the team to beat, according to the annual pre-season coaches poll, the University of Alberta Golden Bears proved the voting right with a massive 52 points in the first half to lead to an 88-76 victory over the Trinity Western University Spartans, Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Sophomore guard Andre Kelly scored a team-high 18 points and four treys while senior guard Lyndon Annetts added 13 points and Canada West active leading scorer Mamadou Gueye netted 10.
Melbourne, Australia product Max Viitala earned a game-high 21 points to go with seven boards while sophomore guard Pogos Trunyan tallied 18 points.
A tight score in the opening minutes of the game was broken open by Alberta's three-ball leader, fourth-year guard Austin Waddoups, draining one from long-distance to start a 15-2 run for the home team.
Three late treys from the Spartans in the first quarter got the score back in striking distance for the visitors, but a quick eight points to open the second got the Bears back up by more than 10.
After a stellar 22 points in the opening quarter and shooting at 47% from the field, Alberta blasted the scoreboard in the second, doubling their trey total, shooting at 55% from the field, and adding 30 points to gain all the game's momentum leading into halftime, all while getting 27 points out of 52 from the bench.
The two squads traded baskets for most of the third quarter, the Bears' lead staying about 15-20 points ahead, seemingly making the game all but decided.
A late push by Trinity Western in the final quarter suggested otherwise, however, the Spartans putting up 28 points in the fourth to take one final shot at earning a victory, but the Bears bench players scored 16 in the last 10 minutes, stifling any comeback and providing Alberta the home-opening win.
Both teams meet up again tomorrow to finish the weekend series, game time starting at approximately 7 p.m. MT.