Connor Hood, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - The University of Alberta Golden Bears basketball team suffered just their first loss of the season, dropping a 69-60 decision at the hands of the visiting Calgary Dinos, Thursday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Sophomore Brody Clarke paced the Bears with 15 points on 6-12 shooting, while Mamadou Gueye and Lyndon Annetts also finishing in double digits with 11 and 10 points respectively. Canada West scoring leader Thomas Cooper finished with a game-high 24 points, finishing 3-4 from distance and 6-15 overall.
In what was a highly-touted game between two of the top teams in the conference, the U Sports No. 3 Calgary Dinos came away with a narrow win in a tightly contested playoff-like tilt. Neither team opened the game well, combining for just 26 first quarter points and 10 turnovers. The Dinos, thanks to five points from each Cooper and David Kapinga, held a slim 14-12 lead after the first.
The Bears, meanwhile, struggled with a 20.0% shooting first quarter, including just 1-6 from three point land. Their rhythm never seemed to show up throughout the full 40 minutes, failing to reach the 70 point mark for the first time this season.
The two rivals exchanged chances in the second, with neither team able to generate a lead of more than 6 at any point in the first half. Gueye dropped in seven of his 11 points in the quarter, but struggled mightily shooting, making just two of his seven first half shots.
The incredibly tight defensive battle carried over into the third, as the previously unbeaten Golden Bears held to just 11 points by the aggressive Dino defence. Calgary, having continued their strong game in their own half, started to find their groove in the third, gaining a lead of 11 entering the fourth quarter.
The Bears had their best shooting quarter in the fourth, hitting on nine of their 19 shots, but never came within nine points of the Dinos, who seemed to counter every Bear point with a bucket of their own. While the Bears held the conference's leading offence to just 69 points, they also had their worst shooting game of the season, connecting on just 32% of their shots, and a paltry 27% on three pointers in the loss.
The Bears and Dinos will conclude their two game set in Calgary on Saturday, as the Dinos play host to Alberta at 7:00 p.m.