Hard court Pandas improve to 2-0

Matt Gutsch, Bears and Pandas Athletics

EDMONTON – The University of Alberta Pandas basketball team ripped off a 41-8 first half scoring run to erase an early deficit and power their way to a 79-46 victory over the Brandon University Bobcats on Saturday night at the Saville Community Sports Centre.

The win bumps Alberta's record to 2-0 on the season, while the Bobcats fall to 0-2 to start the 2016-17 Canada West season.

Rookie guard Emma Kary, an Alberta provincial team member from Calgary, poured in a game and career high 22 points to pace the Pandas, while fifth-year guard Maddie Rogers added 14 points in the Saturday night win, giving her 34 points over the two game series. Elle Hendershot, Alberta's fourth-year forward from Lubbock, Texas, picked up four points and a game high eight rebounds as the Pandas earned 43 off the boards, including 17 offensive rebounds, while Brandon picked up just 28 total boards. The Pandas also got a good night's work from Aimee Wilson, a third-year transfer from the University of Calgary Dinos. Wilson, a guard, potted 10 points and eight rebounds of her own, establishing her best night as a member of the Pandas so far.

One night earlier the Bobcats played Alberta incredibly tough, losing 71-68, after going toe-to-toe with Evergreen and Gold until an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter by Alberta created separation they couldn't overcome. In that game both Mikaela Stanton and Keisha Cox played 34 minutes each, and combined for 77% of Brandon's offensive output.

But on Saturday night, both were held in check by Alberta, as they played just over 20 minute each, with Stanton earning 12 points and Cox picking up just five points after a scoring 34 on Friday night. Brandon did get a team high 13 points from Lauren Anderson, third-year forward and transfer from the University of Winnipeg. Anderson had a good night on Friday night as well, contributing nine points in the narrow loss.

The Bobcats, as they did on Friday, opened strong against Alberta, utilizing the full court press to pressure Alberta's transition game into mistakes and errors. It worked, at least early on, as the 'Cats raced out to an early 10-2 lead. Alberta, however, was able to gain some composure and slow the game down, finding ways to break the press and expose Brandon defensively. Once Alberta solved the Brandon defensive puzzle, they started cashing offensive chances galore, leading into half-time on the red hot heels of a 41-8 scoring run to lead 43-18 at the break.

From there, it was purely academic as Alberta could afford to trade bucket for bucket with the Bobcats and maintain their comfortable lead, eventually locking down the 79-46 final decision.

The Pandas return to action next weekend when they take on the UNBC Timberwolves in Prince George, B.C. Brandon, meanwhile, will play their home opener next weekend against the UBC-Okanagan Heat.