Pandas edge Timberwolves in overtime thriller

Pandas edge Timberwolves in overtime thriller

Peter James, UNBC Communications 

PRINCE GEORGE - University of Alberta guard Maddie Rogers scored eight points in overtime as the Pandas came back to beat the University of Northern British Columbia 82-80 in an overtime thriller Saturday at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre.

Rogers finished with a game-high 23 points, with 19 of those come in the second half and overtime as the Pandas improved to 4-0 in Canada West action this season.

The Timberwolves, who led for more than 32 minutes, fell to 0-4.

"Our team stuck together and we were able to make shots when it mattered," Rogers said. "It was a huge win for us, especially being a young team, we've had trouble in the pre-season closing out games and UNBC gave us a scare that's for sure. But we pulled it out in the end."

UNBC forced the extra session when sophomore Maria Mongomo threw a baseball style full court pass to Madison Landry under the hoop and the rookie calmly dropped in the tying points with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. It was Landry's first field goal of the game and it game at the perfect time.

"It was a great feeling," Mongomo said of seeing the game-tying basket go in. "I am very proud of my team, but it's still a game where we didn't get the result we wanted."

Alberta led by as many as five in the extra session, but UNBC clawed back and took the lead 80-79 with 26 seconds left when Mongomo hit a pair of free throws. Rogers took the ensuing inbound pass at and drove the baseline to put the Pandas up for good at 81-80. After Alberta hit a free throw a last-gasp three-point heave from Landry came up short.

Mongomo led the Timberwolves with 22 points, Stacey Graham had 19 on six of eight shooting from beyond the arc and Vasiliki Louka had 18 before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

"We're playing really well as a team, but we didn't get the result we wanted," Mongomo said. "We have to keep working as a team and I know we can do great things."

Emma Kary added 15 for the Pandas, while Brooklyn Legault was a rebound away from a double-double with 11 points and nine boards.

The Timberwolves came out to gates flying, with Mongomo draining a three-pointer on the team's first possession, securing a rebound at the other end of the floor and dropping in a lay up as the home side built an early 7-0 lead.

It was a lead they would never relinquish all half, growing it to as big as 12 before the Pandas rallied late in the second quarter to draw within four at the half.

The Timberwolves 35-31 lead at the break was thanks in large part to Mongomo who connected on two of her three three-point attempts and finished the half with 10 points and Louka who was a big presence in the paint scoring 12 points.

The Pandas, who were held to three field goals in the first quarter, found their offence in the second 10 minutes shooting 6/13 from the floor and outscoring the Timberwolves 18-16 in the period.

UNBC extended its lead in the third quarter using an 11-0 run to take a 50-39 lead late in the frame. The Pandas responded with a 10-0 run of their own late in the third and early in the fourth quarter to get back within in one.

Alberta took its first lead of the game just under three minutes into the fourth quarter and the teams exchanged the advantage a few times before the Mongomo to Landry connection got the game into overtime.

The Timberwolves are home to Trinity Western next weekend with games on Friday (6 p.m. PT) and Saturday (5 p.m. PT).

The Pandas are back home in Edmonton for games against Thompson Rivers on Friday (6 p.m. MT) and Saturday (5 p.m. MT).