Jason Hills, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON — The University of Alberta Golden Bears are known for their blue-collar defence and their hard work on defence certainly paid off on Friday night because their shooting stroke was lukewarm at best.
Alberta overcame a rough fourth quarter offensively to prevail with a 75-70 victory over the Manitoba Bisons at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
Tyus Jefferson led Alberta with 21 points and eight rebounds, while veteran power forward Brody Clarke earned another double-double effort with a 17 point, 13 rebound performance.
Rashawn Browne led Manitoba with 22 points, while James Wagner earned 15 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
"We were rusty offensively, but defensively, we played hard, and we played with effort and passion and if we keep competing to that level, we'll keep having success," said Bears head coach Barnaby Craddock.
The win marks the fifth-straight victory for Alberta and improves their record to 8-3, while Manitoba dropped their fourth-straight game and fell to 3-8 in the Canada West standings.
Despite the Bisons out of the playoff picture to start the second half of the Canada West season, they went toe-to-toe with the Golden Bears who are always tough on home court.
Alberta held a slim 34-30 lead at the half, and Clarke provided the bulk of the Bears offence in the early stages of the third quarter, but the combination of Andre Kelly, Adam Paige and Geoffrey James helped Alberta increase their lead to 11, and take a 61-50 lead into the final quarter.
But, the Golden Bears offence went MIA in the fourth quarter shooting just 17.6%, and they went ice cold, but Manitoba was unable to take advantage.
"I thought it was a very competitive game, but we didn't shoot the ball very effectively, particularly in the second half. They really did a good job not giving us a lot of good looks, and that's what they do," said Bisons head coach Kirby Schepp.
"You have to credit their defence. They're not dynamic, but they're very solid and they're always in the right spots and they're very disciplined and they make it hard to get good looks."
It looked like Jefferson was gong to be the only Golden Bear to score in the fourth quarter as the product of Utah made a circus shot with a floater through two Bison defenders and followed it up with another highlight reel finish under the basket to give Alberta a 67-59 lead.
"I thought Tyus Jefferson played well and made some big hoops in transition and Brody Clarke always seems to come up with a double-double," said Craddock.
"It was a tough fourth quarter. It was just rust. We missed a lot of open shots. You'd run something and get an open shot and miss it. You'd run something else and they'd defend it well. It just kept snowballing from there."
Despite the Golden Bears distancing themselves in the final minutes of the game, Manitoba showed no quit until the final buzzer and competed hard against Alberta.
I was happy with the way we competed," said Schepp.
"It was a real physical battle and I was proud of how our guys competed physically."
1K FOR CLARKE: Another game, another milestone for Brody Clarke. The fourth-year power forward recorded his 1,000 career point as a Golden Bear early in the third quarter when he drove the baseline and went hard to the basket to earn the bucket and the foul. Clarke is just the eighth Golden Bear to reach the 1,000-point milestone.