Eoin Colquhoun, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE – In a preview of a potential Canada West semi-final match-up, the Lethbridge Pronghorns and U SPORTS third ranked Alberta Golden Bears went back-and-forth for 40 minutes but Mamadou Gueye's jumper with eight-seconds remaining gave the Golden Bears the 97-96 win and a weekend sweep.
Alberta finishes the regular season with a conference best 19-1 record and will go into the Canada West playoffs as the number one seed. The Pronghorns will be seeded fourth and finish with a 12-8 record.
Pronghorn guard Kyle Peterson led all scorers and set a new career high with 32 points. Zac Overwater, who had an exceptional second half of the season, picked up 19 points. Colton Gibb and Awak Piom each had 13 points.
Playing in only his second game since the New Year, leading scorer this season Dejon Burdeaux picked up five points, three assists and three rebounds in limited action.
For the Bears, Geoff Pippus came off the bench to score a team best 19 points. Brody Clarke had another solid game for the Bears, picking up his second double-double in as many nights with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Gueye finished up with 15 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists.
The opening quarter saw the two teams trade runs with the Golden Bears sprinting out to a 11-0 lead before the Pronghorns reeled the visitors back in with a 13-3 run of their own but at the end of the first, the Bears held a 17-14 lead.
During the early portion of the second, Lethbridge found their rhythm at the offensive end of the floor taking their first lead of the game and building a five point bulge before the Golden Bears returned the favor. Controlling the rest of the quarter, Alberta outscored the Pronghorns 26-12 the remainder of the quarter and held a nine point lead at the half, 45-36.
Facing the top defensive team in the conference in the Golden Bears, the Pronghorns exploded for a 35 point third quarter and turned the nine point deficit into a three point lead, 71-68. Kyle Peterson caught fire, scoring 18 of his team high 32 points in the quarter, including four buckets from long range.
After a tough third quarter, the top team in Canada West showed their resiliency and responded to the Pronghorns big third quarter with a better concerted effort at the defensive end and flipped the score back in their favor. After falling behind 82-75, Alberta went on 15-0 run and took a 90-82 lead with just under four minutes to play.
Not going away quietly, the Pronghorns battled back yet again, taking the lead with 1:10 remaining on a Zac Overwater three-pointer that put the Pronghorns back in front 93-92 setting up an exciting final minute of action.
Awak Piom put the Pronghorns up five with under a minute to play but Dwan Williams erased that deficit with one flick of the wrist tying the game at 95-95. Peterson went one-for-two from the free throw line on the next Pronghorn possession, opening the door for Gueye's game winning basket.
Statistically, the Bears shot over 54% for the night, compared to the Pronghorns 44.4% but Alberta's inability to take care of the ball gave the Pronghorns the extra looks they needed to keep pace. Alberta turned the ball over 26 times compared the Pronghorns 10.
Both Lethbridge and Alberta will have a bye next week and have to wait and see who they will host for the Canada West best of three quarter-final the following week.