Eoin Colquhoun, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE – U SPORTS third ranked Alberta Golden Bears rode a 15-point halftime lead to a 93-88 win over the Lethbridge Pronghorns in the second to last conference game of the Canada West men's basketball season for both teams.
The loss combined with Calgary and UBC wins tonight means the Pronghorns are locked in with the fourth seed for the Canada West playoffs and their record drops to 12-7 on the season. The Golden Bears with only one blemish on the season improve to 18-1 and have locked down the top seed and home court throughout the Canada West playoffs.
Continuing his stellar play over the past four weeks, Zac Overwater led the Pronghorns with 24 points and eight rebounds before fouling out in the fourth. Second-year guard Brett Warren came off the bench to set a new career high with 19 points and freshman Awak Piom hit for double digits for the second straight game, picking up 11 points.
For the Bears, Brody Clarke led all scorers with 26 points and finished up with a double-double, grabbing 15 boards in only 26 minutes. Austin Waddoups chipped in with 16 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists
As it usually is between the Pronghorns and Bears it was a spirited, scrappy affair with a total of seven players fouling out and bodies hitting the floor on numerous occasions, but the deciding factor in tonight's game was Alberta's ability to extend possessions and keep the Pronghorns attack off balance with their top ranked defence.
Alberta grabbed an astonishing 21 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Pronghorns 50 to 33 on the night. They turned the offensive rebounds into 25 second chance points, 10 more than the Pronghorns were able to muster.
Following a relatively slow start to the first quarter, the Golden Bears closed the first with a 14-6 run to carry a 26-16 lead into the first break and tacked on another five points to their lead in the second to put up what looked like an unsurmountable 15 point lead for the third ranked team in the country.
Despite falling behind further in the third, the Pronghorns were finally able to find some offensive rhythm putting up 25 points and were able to ride that momentum into the fourth and put a scare into the Bears.
Down 23 points early into the fourth, the Pronghorns went on 15-0 run to bring the game back to a manageable eight points with half a quarter to play but they were unable to get over the hump in the final minutes to complete the comeback.
On the night, the Pronghorns shot the ball for a better percentage, 38% to 36.8% but could not overcome the glaring difference on the glass.
The Pronghorns and Golden Bears will complete the Canada West regular season tomorrow night, tip-off is slated for 7:00pm at the 1st Choice Savings Centre in what could be a preview of a Canada West semi-final in three weeks. Catch all the action onwww.canadawest.tv.