Connor Hood, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - It was a much closer contest between the provincial foes, but a similar result in the end on the scoresheet, as the Alberta Golden Bears swept the Lethbridge Pronghorns in the Canada West semifinal with a 103-91 win in Game 2, Saturday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
With the win, the Golden Bears will host the Canada West Final next weekend in Edmonton, and have also qualified for the U SPORTS Final 8 for the second straight season. Alberta will host the Calgary Dinos next Saturday, who swept the UBC Thunderbirds at home in the other conference semifinal.
Similar to Friday's 109-66 Alberta win, the Bears were paced offensively by a majority of their starters, as five players finished with double digit points. Canada West first team all-star Brody Clarke finished with a team-high 23 points on an extremely efficient 11/14 shooting, while Austin Waddoups (18 points), Mamadou Gueye (16), Ivan Ikomey (14), and Lyndon Annetts (13) also turned in strong performances in Game 2.
Colton Gibb paced Lethbridge's attack with a game-high 29 points on 10/18 shooting, in a much better offensive performance from the 'Horns.
The key to Saturday's game, as it also was the night prior, was Lethbridge's inability to slow the Bears offence. Alberta hit the 100-point mark for the second-straight night, hitting on 51% of their shots from the floor. Defensively, Alberta also dominated on the glass, out-rebounding their opponent 40-28, as outscoring them 28-11 on second chance points.
Both teams began Game 2 with offensive rhythm, as Alberta held a slim 22-20 lead after one quarter. However, the Pronghorns, who finished second last in Canada West defensively, allowed another monster quarter from Alberta, as they added to their lead with a 33-point second.
Unlike Game 1, however, Lethbridge was able to remain in the game in the second half, responding with a strong third quarter of their own. A 17-point halftime lead for Alberta was trimmed to just 12 after three, with the game still fully in reach for the visitors.
Needing a handful of defensive stops in the fourth, Alberta continued to find ways to score on Lethbridge in a back-and-fourth final quarter. The 'Horns were able to trim the lead to as little as seven, as a pair of free throws cut the deficit to 92-85. The Golden Bears depth was the difference down the stretch, however, as a trio of three-pointers from Waddoups and Ikomey sealed the Alberta semifinal sweep.
Alberta will host the Calgary Dinos next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the single game Canada West Championship at Saville Community Sports Centre.