Connor Hood - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - In a highly anticipated meeting between two of the best teams in not only Canada West, but in the entire country, the No. 5 ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears earned a 71-61 win over the No. 2 ranked Calgary Dinos, Saturday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
The win gives the Bears the series sweep over their provincial rival, and vaults them to the top of the Canada West standings with an 11-1 record. The Dinos, who like the Bears finished the first half at 9-1, were swept for the first time this season (9-3).
Third-year forward Brody Clarke paced the Bears at both ends of the floor on Saturday, finishing with a team-high 17 points on 6/10 shooting, while also adding a game-high 18 rebounds. Austin Waddoups added 14 points, while Lyndon Annetts dropped in 12 for Alberta.
The Dinos, as they have been all season, were led by Mambi Diawara and his 19 points, but that came on a 5/15 shooting game.
Diawara wasn't the only one who felt the full force of the Golden Bears top-ranked defence, however, as the Dinos as a team shot just 34% from the floor, and 25% (8-32) from beyond the arc. The Golden Bears stingy defence was on display in the first quarter, as they held Calgary to just nine points on 2-12 shooting. The Golden Bears, by comparison, were able to get four points from Clarke and five from Mamadou Gueye to take a 18-9 lead after one quarter.
Both teams had success offensively in the second, but the Golden Bears were able to add to their lead, going up 39-24 at halftime. While not as offensive as the team's 91-79 series opener, Saturday's game highlighted the conference's top defensive teams, and featured a combined 78 rebounds (49-29 ALB), six blocks, and 17 steals (14-3 CGY).
The Dinos, thanks to an 11-point outburst from Daiwara, trimmed the Bears lead slightly in the third quarter, outscoring the Bears 21-17.
The Golden Bears, who held a seemingly comfortable three-quarter lead, weren't doing themselves any favours in the fourth, shooting just 2-12 from the field. The Bears did, however, add ten points from the free throw line, including clutch makes from Clarke and Waddoups, to close out the Dinos with a nine-point win.
The Golden Bears will remain in Edmonton next weekend, as they welcome the Regina Cougars to the Saville Community Sports Centre. Calgary, meanwhile, will finish up their four-game road trip with a weekend series in Langley, B.C. against the Trinity Western Spartans. All four games can be caught live on Canada West TV.