Alberta holds on for third-straight win

Alberta holds on for third-straight win

Paul Cartledge - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics

EDMONTON – Despite a late comeback by the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades, the University of Alberta Pandas held on to take a 56-53 decision to sweep the weekend series, Saturday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.

Senior guard Maddie Rogers scored a team-high 14 points while adding seven rebounds and five assists. Fourth-year forward Elle Hendershot put up another double-double by recording 10 points and 11 boards, rookie guard Emma Kary also breaking the double-digit barrier with 11 points.

Senior guard/forward Kayli Sartori netted a game-high 23 points, including nine in the fourth quarter as part of the Cascades comeback attempt. Fraser Valley was outrebounded by a total of 44-29 in the loss.

Aiming to split the weekend series, the Cascades came out strong with an 8-3 run but a Megan Tywoniuk layup began a momentum-shifting 12-0 run for the home team before both squads became mired in a tough stretch of play, featuring turnovers aplenty and no points for almost four and a half minutes.

The rest of the second quarter saw both teams progressively improve on the scoreboard, the highlight coming from Sartori midway through the frame with a coast-to-coast layup to reduce Fraser Valley's deficit to five, but the visitors entered the locker room down 25-18 at halftime.

The third quarter was an odd balance for the Pandas, having no luck in eight shots from beyond the arc, but taking advantage of Cascade fouls by going 8-for-8 at the charity stripe. 

That kept Alberta ahead on the scoreboard, entering the final frame with a nine-point lead, even extending it to 13 with just under seven minutes to go, but a quick 12-0 run by Fraser Valley had them only down by one when fourth-year forward Shayna Litman put a deuce off the glass.

Alberta's ensuing attempt to reply offensively led to fourth-year guard Sara Simovic fouling out of the game, giving the Pandas another chance and Rogers made no mistake on her jumper.

Though Sartori responded with a long two that beat the shot clock, more fouls by the Cascades put Rogers at the free throw line, connecting on four straight to make the score 53-48 with 21.7 seconds left.

Third-year guard Sydney Williams sank a trey at the corner to cut the lead again, but senior guard Shay Crisp then went to the charity stripe to add two more to the Alberta side.

After Chilliwack, B.C. native Sartori put away two of three on a three-ball foul with 3.7 seconds left, Rogers stepped up again to the Panda free throw line with 2.2 seconds left, her first shot bouncing around the rim three times before failing to sink in, but her second one swished straight through.

Sartori's hail-mary shot at the buzzer fell well short of the bucket, cementing the weekend sweep for Alberta.

The 14-2 Pandas now take a week off before heading to Saskatoon to play the Saskatchewan Huskies in the first week of February while the 8-6 Cascades return home to host the Thompson Rivers WolfPack next weekend.

Game notes: Pandas head coach Scott Edwards coached his 400th overall game for Alberta tonight, now with a record of 287-113.