Jason Hills, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON — Alberta head coach Barnaby Craddock wanted to make fourth-year power forward Brody Clarke a more focal point of the offence against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and Clarke came through with a massive performance for his head coach.
Clarke recorded a career-high 40 points along with 11 rebounds to help the No.7 ranked Golden Bears sweep No.4 ranked UBC with an 87-79 victory, Saturday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Clarke's 40-point performance was tied for third highest in Golden Bears history and it's the first such scoring effort since guard Alex Steele scored 40 against Trinity Western on January 19, 2008.
Third-year guard Andre Kelly chipped in with 17 points and five rebounds, while fourth-year guard Jadon Cohee led UBC with 25 points in the loss.
Alberta finishes their Canada West regular season with a 15-5 record, while UBC falls to 17-3.
"That's a statement game for Brody and he deserves all the credit," said Bears head coach Barnaby Craddock.
"Brody's played on a lot of high-calibre teams like Ontario provincial teams and national teams and this is new for him being the leader and the alpha dog. We've talked to him about stepping up in the crunch and he showed that in a big way tonight. What a performance."
Alberta got off to a much stronger start than the night before. They jumped out to an early 8-0 lead and set the tone, finishing the second quarter really strong by taking a 42-36 lead at the half.
After scoring 15 points in the first half, Clarke dominated the third quarter, scoring 17 points on his own, but freshman forward Jonah Morrison hit two clutch treys in the late stages to give UBC a 66-64 lead heading to the final quarter.
Yet Clarke and the Golden Bears weren't going to be denied in the final quarter. Fourth-year guard Dwan Williams hit a buzzer-beater trey with the shot clock winding down, then Clarke hit a pull-up jumper moments later with the shot clock set to expire to give Alberta an 80-74 lead with just over two minutes left.
"We didn't have an answer for Brody (Clarke)," said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. "He played tough. He scored inside and out. He's such a tough match-up for any team and we just couldn't stop him tonight."
Clarke showed why he's one of the best players in the country in the win over UBC. He dominated the paint and hit clutch shots from mid-range. With Clarke red-hot, his teammates came through with some big shots and plays when Alberta needed them most.
Whether it was Williams, third-year guard Tyus Jefferson hitting a clutch jumper, third-year forward Cole Knudsen, or freshman guard Shol Ayach coming down with an important rebound.
"Brody's play was spectacular and it gave everybody confidence. We were scrappy defensively and we got contributions from everyone," said Craddock. "I loved the way our guys played. The effort level was there and they worked incredibly hard."
After rattling off 16 straight wins, UBC finishes the season getting swept by Alberta, but Hanson was pleased with his team's effort despite the two-game losing streak.
"We're happy with the effort, but we made a lot of little mistakes that cost us," said Hanson. "We have to work on the little things and you can't make the little mistakes, or it will cost you in the playoffs."
Both Alberta and UBC have earned first-round playoff "byes" and won't hit the court until February 14-16 when they both host Canada West quarter-final best-of-three series.