By Paul Cartledge
EDMONTON – A dominant first quarter was the difference, the No.3 University of Alberta Golden Bears defeating the University of Victoria Vikes by an 89-63 result to extend their winning streak to nine games on the season, Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Senior guard Geoff Pippus scored eight points and five rebounds in the opening frame, finishing with 13 and eight, respectively, while third-year forward Brody Clarke netted a team-high 20 points. Team-leading scorer Mamadou Gueye added 16 points and 11 boards for his second double-double of the season, fourth-year guard Austin Waddoups putting up 11 points and six assists as the Bears maintained their undefeated season.
Fourth-year guard Mason Loewen earned a team-high 20 points for the visitors, adding six rebounds, while fourth-year forward Hayden Lejeune tallied 13 points in the loss, the Vikes dropping to 5-4 on the season.
Despite the road team making good on four of their first five shots from the charity stripe, a Waddoups layup spearheaded a 17-0 Alberta run, the Bears shooting at 55% from the field and 44% from long distance in the opening quarter.
Victoria struggled by comparison, only hitting two shots in the paint and none from beyond the arc, yet managing to hit eight of ten free throws.
Still, the massive momentum swing of that strong run had the home team up by a 26-12 score to end the first frame and they carried it into the second, maintaining a shooting percentage above 50% and holding onto the momentum with big plays. With 4:03 left, sophomore guard Andre Kelly drove in for a layup from the top of the arc, getting the hoop and the harm to increase the lead to 14.
With a 48-29 lead at halftime, the Golden Bears seemed to sit back in the third, having difficulty to throw the final dagger from downtown by only succeeding on one of twelve shots, but as much as Victoria pressed, Alberta maintained a healthy double-digit lead.
The Bears rediscovered their focus in the final quarter, shooting at a game-best 61% in the field and finding that final dagger in the form of second-year guard Sam Newman, dribbling in from mid-court to cap off the game with a crowd-pleasing slam dunk.
Game two of the weekend series between the Vikes and the Golden Bears starts at 8:00 p.m. MT on Saturday.