Paul Cartledge - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON – Scoring 63 points in the second half, the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns emerged victorious in extra time to claim a 112-111 decision over the University of Alberta Golden Bears to extend the best-of-three quarter-final series to a third and final game, Friday night at Saville Community Sports Centre.
Third-year guard Austin Waddoups, who had the game in his hands in the final seconds of overtime, almost finished with a triple-double, recording 19 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists.
Sophomore forward Brody Clarke netted a team-high 23 points while fourth-year guard Mamadou Gueye put up 21, both of them fouling out before the game was over.
Fourth-year guard Dejon Burdeaux, like Clarke, had his night ended before overtime due to fouls, but the San Leandro, Calif. native scored a game-high 31 points to go with eight boards and a perfect 13-for-13 rate at the charity stripe. Third-year Zac Overwater, winning the game with 9.3 seconds left in extra time with a couple of free throws, earned a double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds.
The 'Horns got the early jump in game two, starting with a 9-2 run, but the Bears fought back with a 12-4 run of their own, leading to a second half in the quarter with several lead changes, both teams shooting at 59% in the field.
Though Alberta kept going decently strong in the second quarter, Lethbridge began to struggle as they only sunk six shots over the 10-minute span, not including the bucket (credited to Clarke) they accidentally put into their own net off a defensive rebound with three-and-a-half minutes left.
Down by 14 at halftime, it looked to be a one-sided affair that would end in an Alberta two-game sweep but the Pronghorns took advantage of their accuracy on the long-ball, firing eight treys from beyond the arc for the bulk of their 32 points in the quarter.
Tying the game at 65 with just under two minutes left off a Mike Pierzchala trey, it was anybody's game in the final 12 minutes, but the Bears caught a break to end the quarter, a Geoff Pippus three-ball attempt near the top of the arc missing the target but a quick-acting Dwan Williams tapped the rebound right back up before the buzzer sounded to give the Bears a 71-70 lead at the end of three quarters.
That led to a gritty fourth quarter, the two squads combining for 14 fouls, which fuelled the offence even further as every single free throw of 19 combined attempts was successful.
Despite 61 points in the fourth stanza, the charity stripe laid the groundwork for the game's drama, third-year forward Elliott Sentance putting Lethbridge up by a 101-98 score when he drained two attempts with 19.7 seconds left.
Gueye responded with a fade-away jumper with 13.6 seconds left, earning the hoop and the harm, tying the game at 101 with the final free throw of the quarter.
Senior guard William Hickey tried to end the game in regulation, but his buzzer-beater fell wide of the basket, hitting the outside rim and the glass.
Alberta jumped out to a quick six-point lead on the 'Horns in extra time, but Overwater netted four of Lethbridge's six-straight points to tie the game again, only to have Gueye score four straight for the Bears, combining with another Overwater free throw to have Alberta up by three with 50 seconds left.
After a Gueye foul on a Brett Warren layup gave the road team a chance to tie the score with 43.4 seconds left, the Bears continued to play with danger, fouling the Pronghorns twice more in the final moments.
Though Overwater missed both attempts with 10.2 seconds left on the clock, he made no mistake with 9.3 seconds left to give Lethbridge the nail-biting one-point lead.
On the final play, Waddoups tried to coax the Pronghorns into a final foul but since they weren't biting, the American Fork, Utah native went dramatic by moving down the court and trying to beat the buzzer with a trey, only to have it hit the rim and bounce out.
Both teams will aim for a Canada West Final Four berth on Saturday night, with Game 3 set for 7:00 p.m. at Saville Community Sports Centre.